Monday, December 31, 2012

Falta de Llaves

I was supposed to have a baptism a few days ago on Saturday, but as we went to fill up the baptismal font, we found that the keys to the font were not included in the keychain that the Branch President gave us.  We called him and asked if he had the keys to the font.  He replied that every key that he had was on that keychain, so if it wasn´t included on the chain, he didn´t have them.  We then proceeded to call and go to the house of other branch presidents, district presidency members, and basically every Mormon in the city of Yacuiba with the title of "president".  We eventually got the address of the District secretary who currently had all of the keys of the District president because the president was out of town (by the way district is like a small stake if you didn´t know).  He gave us the keys to open a closet that contained all of the original keys for the district.  There were about 80 keys there, beautifully hung and labeled.  We frantically searched all of the labels, frantically searching for the keys we needed.  None of them had anything to do with baptism or fonts.  We decided to try all of the keys, no importa what the labels said none of them worked.

Dismayed, I looked up at the foam tile ceiling, "Elder, do you think we can enter through the ceiling then open it from inside?" I said.

"I don´t know, but I kind of want to try," he replied.  My companion has a fear of heights and I happen to be quite good at climbing stuff, so we decided that I should be the one to go.  With some exertion and difficulty, I managed to climb up into the ceiling and then drop don on the other side of the door.  I tried to open the door and it turned out to be just as locked as it was on the other side.  I climbed back through the roof and rejoined my companion.  We then had to go to the investigator´s house and explain to him that for falta de llaves, we couldn´t do the baptism and that it would have to do it next week.  Dismayed, but understanding, he replied,"OK, next week."

Elder Casdorph

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wishing a Merry Christmas

I´m so happy that I won´t have to hear any more questions about the end of the world.  My whole time in Bolivia, people have been asking us what the church says about the whole Mayan end of the world thing.  The number and frequency continued to escalate until it reached a maximum of about 80% of the people would ask us about this on the 20th and 21st.

In other news, our baptism this Saturday ended up not happening because the Dragon´s uncle came Thursday night and dragged an unhappy Dragon to Santa Cruz to live and work there for a couple of years.  Dragon didn´t want to go, but he apparently didn´t have much of a choice.  All that we can do now is give his address to the missionaries where he is so that they can baptize him.

We should be having a different baptism, however, this coming Saturday.  Eber Choque (the one person who actually listened to our invitation to go to the church when all we did was talk to him on his doorstep) now has received basically all of the lessons, has a strong testimony, and has gone to church 3 times.  Assuming that nothing crazy happens between now and Saturday, he will be getting  baptized this Saturday.

For Christmas we will be doing nothing special other than calling our families, but I am looking forward to that call.

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and
Until next time..

Elder Casdorph

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Bunch of Huasca

We had a conference my zone, which consists of 8 elders, and the president.  We were taught a bunch, given a bunch of huasca (which basically means verbal punishment, but I can´t remember a good way to say it in English, so huasca), and then we played some futbol with the president and he took us out to a nice dinner. In summary, it was a good conference.

In other news, Dragon Hitler Fernandez will be getting baptised this Saturday and then Elber Choque will be getting baptised the following saturday.  It´s crazy hot here, but I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity that I have to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ here.

I hope that all is going well in this Christmas Season and bid all of you a Merry Christmas,

Elder Casdorph

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dragon Hitler, Bruce Lee, and Van Damme

Everything is going well here.  It´s super hot, but awesome. As demonstrated nicely by the fact that my new zone is on a futbol field and the old one is in a church, the new zone is a bit more fun.  There´s something much more fun and exciting about being out of the city of Santa Cruz.  This 22 of December, we will be having a baptism of a 19 year old investigator named Dragon Hitler.  Yes, his name is Dragon Hitler.  I don´t remember his last names, but his 2 first names are Dragon Hitler, and his brothers are Bruce Lee and Van Damme.  What his parents were smoking when they named their children I don´t know, but in this week Dragon received a testimony, he is going to church, and is progressing awesomely.

Other than my dominant reason for serving a mission, which is to help people to know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I also wanted to have some of those crazy experiences and stories that returned missionaries always seem to have.  Yesterday, Yacuiba (my new area) delivered.  One of the atttched photos is my journal entry of this experience.

Today, I also experienced one of those crazy stories that missionaries always have.  We were talking to a guy who was a bit drunk and trying to set up an appointment to talk to him when he wouldn't be drunk.  He asked why we couldn't meet with him right then.  "Well, frankly sir, because you're drunk," we replied.  "yeah, I've been drinking, but I can still understand you.  Let's talk," he replied.  We explained to him that he might be able to understand us, but that in his drunken state, he wouldn't be able to feel the spirit.  As drunk people often tend to do, he started to get angry.  As his anger escalated, we realized that the conversation was going nowhere good, so we bascially said, "We'll talk to you later when you're sober," and started to walk away.  He followed us yelling some stuff.  We walked faster.  He matched our speed and continued yelling.  My companion started to job and I joined him.  The drunk continued to follow.  We started running and zigzagging through random streets and alleys to try to shake him.  We couldn't run very fast, however, because we also had with us our 51 year old ward missionary leader who was sick with a fever and couldn't run very well.  After darting down a few streets, we'd slow down thinking that we had lost our drunk pursuer.  A few seconds later, he'd appear shouting, "Amigos!"  Then we'd take flight again.  We did this 2 or 3 times before we finally lost him.

I hope everything is going well back in the States in this Christmas season, and if anybody wants to sent some emails to a heatstroked missionary in Bolivia, my email is

Elder Casdorph

Monday, December 3, 2012

Infierno Verde

(not a picture from Jack... just Google)
Definitely the most interresting thing that happened this week was that I got transferred.  I am now serving in the city of Yacuiba (on the border of Bolivia and Argentina) with Elder Mallea (an Elder from La Paz, Bolivia with 6 months in the mission and basically my same size and build).

Yacuiba, also known as the infierno verde (green hell) is as it´s nickname suggests.  It has many small mountains (or large hills) covered in gorgeous trees and greenery.  It is also insanely hot.  Santa Cruz was super hot and humid, but here is even hotter and well, the humidity is the same as you can´t really have any more than 100%.

The people are a bit poorer than my other area and a tiny bit more open to recieve the gospel.  So far things are going great here. My companion and I get along very well, and we have been working crazy hard in these few days that we have together.  While I will miss being able to go to the air-conditioned supermarket and buy American products like BBQ sauce and peanut butter, I kinda like being farther away from civilization.

Next week I should be able to say more about the missionary work in Yacuiba, but until next time,

Elder Casdorph

Monday, November 26, 2012

Barefoot Soccer and Bolivian Santa

Nothing much to report this week, things are going decently with the new companion and we´re teaching and knocking on doors and doing the missionary stuff.  This Wednesday was the Census for all of Bolivia and apparently here, it´s against the law to leave your house in the morning on census day.  The missionaries were all told that we couldn´t leave our house for the whole day.  We studied, we slept, washed clothes and slept.  At about sixish, the Census had been over for a long time, and the majority of the people were out playing in the streets.  Right outside of our house was a group of members playing soccer in the street.  Wanting to play, my companion and I agreed that the portion of street was directly in front of our house, so by going into the street we weren´t technically leaving our house.  I got to play soccer barefoot in the street just like a little latino boy and it was a blast.

It´s weird to think that we are in the Christmas season as there is no sign of snow, Christmas lights, and few Christmas trees.  In fact, the most common Christmassy thing that I see are posters of Santa in a red-striped swimming suit drinking a pepsi.

Until Next Time
Elder Casdorph

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Emergency Companion Exchange

I have a new companion. His name is Elder Vasquez and is from Santiago, Chile. He is the only member of the church in his family.  He´s a chubby fellow who looks kinda like Gabriel Iglesias and apparently enjoys field hockey.

I found out that he was to be my companion Monday night, just as p-day was ending and we were about to out and proselyte.  We got a call that there was to be an emergency companion exchange and Elder Garcia was to be ready to leave in an hour.  To be honest I wasn´t too happy and neither was Elder Garcia.

Those of you who know me well, know that I am terrible with both names and directions and well...being in a foreign country speaking a different language doesn´t really make it any easier.  Also, because my new companion is new to the area it´s my job to teach him who people are and where they live.  To make a long story short, we got lost a bunch this week because I couldn´t remember well where people lived or how to get there.  I was feeling pretty darn crappy, especially after one instance of looking for an investigator´s house (that I should know where it is) for about an hour and a half and not finding it.  I prayed...a lot. Now things are going better, and we´re working better.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, November 5, 2012

Four Months

Things are going well here.  I can communicate and even joke with people now.  It´s difficult, but I can usually do it. Also, the family that I live with wants to try to do a Thanksgiving dinner.  It won´t be the same, because here they don´t have some of the essential elements such as gravy or my family, but the fact that they want to try is nice.

We have not found any baptismal records for Elsa (our investigator who on the day of her baptism informed us that she was already a member) so we are either going to baptize her again or for the first time at an undetermined time during this week. Ismael (our investigator who asked to borrow a white shirt and tie to go to church, but still hasn´t worn them) will also be baptized this week on Saturday.

There is not much to report here this week other that the hotness of Santa Cruz continues to get hotter as we are entering into the summer season.  Next week, I should be able to include pictures of a smiling Ismael and Elsa dressed in white, and ready to enter the waters of baptism.

-Elder Casdorph

p.s. I officially have 4 months in the mission now as of today.

Monday, October 29, 2012

"¡Muy tarde!" - "Adrian! Hey, Adrian!"

We believe the there was a hate crime performed on the chapel in my area.  All we know is that at about 5:30 pm the chapel was on fire and there was nobody inside the chapel gates.  The fire continued and nearly burned down the entire building.  At this point you might be severely worried about the state of my chapel and of the church in Bolivia, but the truth is that there was no hate crime and the chapel did not burn down, but a building right next to it that has absolutely nothing to do with the church did burn down.

Many of the members, however saw the fire from the same point of view as the first pic and thought that the chapel was on fire.  The whole neighborhood came to watch the fire and some took advantage of the situation and started selling drinks and snacks just like at a sporting event.  The firemen, however didn´t show up until like an hour and a half or 2 hours later and when they did come, a bunch of the people yelled,"¡Muy tarde!" at them.  Eventually they did get the fire stopped and all is fine now.  Also, just in case anybody is still worried, the chapel did not burn down, it was a different building.

On another note, I was supposed to have a baptism on Thursday, but as the hermana that was supposed to get baptized showed up, she informed us that she had been talking with her mom earlier in the day.  She told her mom that she planned to get baptized in the Mormon church.  Her mom then told her that when she was 8 she and her whole family got baptized.  Our investigator was a member already, she just didn´t remember her baptism!  We still have to find her records to verify that she truly was baptized, but as of now, there is no baptism and it looks like rather than converting a nonmember, we activated an inactive member.

On a completely different note, my companion went to the dentist for only the second time in his life (the 1st time was to get the OK to go on the mission).  He got to experience having his face numbed for the first time as well, which was rather amusing to me(a seasoned veteran in dental matters).  He spent 15+ min poking himself in the face and laughing at himself talking funny.  When he saw his reflection, he said that he looked like Rocky Balboa and proceeded to yell, "Adrian! Hey, Adrian!" with his best impression of Rocky.  I´m glad to know that even those who don´t speak English like to make fun of this part of Rocky.

-- Elder Casdorph

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Elsa and Ismael

This week was pretty good.  We had an investigator, named Elsa, who was coming along nicely and wanted to get baptized, but at the end of December and we were thinking more like this Saturday.  We had invited her to pray about if she should get baptized on this date and last Monday, we asked her how this prayer went. "¡Buenisimo!" she replied, and then proceeded to tell us that she had received a definite answer that she should be baptized on that date.  Yesterday she passed her baptismal interview and everything looks set for Saturday.  She will be my first baptism where I was there from the beginning to the end and took part in every lesson, because the others were investigators from other missionaries before us or children of less-active parents who had taught their children most everything, they just never got baptized.

Another investigator, Ismael, has been coming along fairly well in the lessons but never comes to church. On Saturday, we taught him about the Sabbath day for the 3rd or 4th time, and this time it actually stuck.  He asked what he should do about clothes cause he didn´t have dress clothes to wear to church.  We replied that the clothes didn´t really matter but if he wanted to he could borrow a shirt and tie from my companion.  On Sunday we were hopefully waiting for him, but church started and he wasn't there.  About half an hour later, he showed up with his kids, and for some reason in a soccer jersey rather that his shirt and tie.  We didn´t get to talk to him cause we had to go do some baptismal interviews in another ward, but we have an appointment with him today.

Wish I could tell more, but I´m practically out of time and still need to write my mission president, so until next time,

-Elder Casdorph

Monday, October 15, 2012

Baptisms and Traditions

I had four baptisms this week which was awesome, but to make these letters more interesting, I am going to tell a story rather that talk about the baptisms.

Here, it is a tradition with birthdays that after singing Happy Birthday and blowing out the candles, that the birthday boy/girl takes a bite out of the cake without the aid of forks or hands.  We were at a little-kid-just-had-a-birthday/little-girls-just-got-baptized party where this tradition was to take place with a 2 year old kid.  He did not understand the take the bite out of the cake part, however, so when it came time for him to do this, he just took bites of air near the cake, which was cute, but not what the people wanted.  He did this a few times, not understanding why people who probably normally told him to not put his face in food had suddenly decided to tell him the opposite.  In order to complete the tradition, he needed to put his face in the cake, so as he was going in for another fake bite, his dad - being the good father that he is - shoved his face in the cake.  This picture is about 10 seconds after that.

That´s all I´ve got for this week, so hope you enjoyed the story,

-Elder Casdorph

[A bonus post from the editor: this paragraph is from the letter Jack sent me this week in response to a story I told about teaching the three Nepali boys who are living with my parents how to play a card game, Hand and Foot.  I had explained my observations about the way each family member modifies the English language to help accommodate these boys.  Here is Jack's response.]

I think I know a bit how the Nepali´s feel now.  I get a lot of people yelling slowly at me (and sometimes I think, "It doesn´t matter how loudly or clearly you say it, I still don´t know what that word means"). Old people are the worst, they talk super quietly and with absolutely no enunciation, often due to their lack of teeth.  I also get a whole bunch of Kirks who talk normally and like to throw in the random phrases that they know in Portugese or even worse, Quetchewa (which I have no idea how to spell by the way).  Despite this, I am saying and understanding a ton more every day.

[If you receive any blog-worthy stories from Jack, please send them to Andrea to be immortalized on his blog.  I think he runs out of computer time very quickly and doesn't get to put all the stories in one place.]

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dear, Sweet English

This week was a decent week, and if all goes well we should have 4 baptisms this Saturday.  2 of them our from our ward, and then in a neighboring ward there are no longer missionaries because one of them was waiting for a visa to Venezuela and now has it and is gone and his companion got put with another Elder in a different area whose companion was also waiting for a visa and now has it.  Because these missionaries left, my companion and I have inherited 2 of their investigators who are going to be baptized on Saturday.

What I would really like to talk about, however, is General Conference.  On Saturday, I watched the sessions in Spanish, which sadly is just not the same.  I couldn´t understand much especially because it is rather difficult to maintain the needed level of attention to understand for 2 hours.  To make it worse, they taunt you because when they start to speak, the first word or two are in the beautiful, original, English audio.  Then some random other guy cuts in and starts jabbering away in Spanish.   I was however able to understand when President Monson (or rather the spanish guy who talks when President Monson moves his mouth) announced that the required missionary ages are being lowered to 19 for girls and 18 for boys.  That is huge!  I like this announcement a lot and hope to see some new, young missionaries start pouring in in a few months.

For the Sunday sessions, a lot more people show up at the stake center to watch, so in addition to the projector in the chapel and cultural hall, there are a bunch of TV´s in the classrooms and hallways for people to watch out there.  Another gringo elder and I asked if we could use one of these TV´s to watch in English.  The TV set up guy said,"no" cause they were gonna be needing all of the TV´s.  As conference was about to start and there was nobody using any of the other TV´s, the other gringo Elder and I decided that they would NOT be needing all of the TV´s so we claimed a classroom, changed the feed to English and then closed the doors.  We watched both Sunday sessions in dear, sweet English, and it was spectacular.  I especially enjoyed Elder Holland´s talk and was glad that I was able to understand it.

If you did not get to watch conference, I invite you to watch/read online cause it was awesome.

Until next time,
- Elder Casdorph

Monday, September 24, 2012


It rained for the first time since I´ve been in Bolivia a few days ago.  By rain, I mean that a thousand forest-fire-fighting helicopters flew by and dropped billions of gallons of water over Santa Cruz.  It was honestly the hardest rain I´ve ever seen, and a lot of the residents say that it´s the hardest rain they´ve ever seen too.  Every major road here has a canal that runs down the midde as a median.  They are on average about 5´ wide and 5´ deep.  Every single one of these was overflowing so much that a couple of the handrails on some of the canal-crossing bridges broke from the water flowing against them.  The streets were basically flooded and there were no taxis or buses on the streets, because nobody wanted to drive in all that water.  This was rather unfortunate because we has a conference that we had to go to about an hour away.  After doing a bunch of calling, trying to find a way to get to the conference, we found that the zone leaders had a brave taxi driver who was a member of their ward who was willing to take them and pick us up as well.

I got to play racquetball last pday...kind of.  It was like racquetball, but in a bigger court without the back wall and ceiling (for you "Most Interesting Man in the World" fans it is the sport that he is playing in the very 1st commercial).  This sport is also fun and I was able to beat the ward member who went with us 2/2 times.  I was also able to beat my companion, but that was easy considering that he is the worst racquetball player in the world.  He would completely miss the ball 3/4 times, and when he did hit it, it would go over the 35´ wall.

On a completely unrelated note, I asked Elder Garcia, my companion, if they have KFC in the Dominican Republic (where he is from).  He responded that they do, and then said, "¡Todos los negros les encanta KFC!" (if you can´t understand that, use Google translate, but I think most of you will be able to understand it).  He then said that if you saw a black person walking down the street and asked them where they were going, they´d say "KFC".  This made me laugh because it fit perfectly with the American stereotype of black people loving fried chicken.  If anybody was wondering, my companion is black as well (with like 1/4 latino).

That´s what I´ve got for this week, so until next time,

Elder Casdorph

Monday, September 17, 2012


I´m gonna get straight to the most exciting part of the week which was that my companion and I had some baptisms on Saturday! I´m not sure why, but for some reason 2 of the 3 of them wanted me to do the actual baptism even though I´ve only said like 10 words to them. I baptised the oldest kid who is 12 and the youngest one who is 8.  My companion baptised the gordito who is 10.  Having some baptisms was awesome and I hope that it´s an experience that I get to enjoy many times.

Speaking of gordito, apparently in Latin America, it´s not rude to call someone fat.  People refer to those of the chunkier persuasion as a gordito all the time, often times to their face.  I find it a little bit comical, but at the same time I kinda like it.  It´s way better that how in America we try to avoid offending somebody.  Here, its just like: they´re fat and everyone knows it, so you might as well say it.

The Spanish is coming along and my stomach is feeling better.  Every time that I tell a member that I am from Utah they say, "la fabrica" which to loosely quote Taledega Nights means, "the fabrica".  What it actually means is the factory which is funny because they are saying that Utah is a missionary factory.

[Editor's note: the pictures Jack has sent since he's been in Bolivia won't open on my computer.  They have no ".xxx" file extension and just say "file" under file type.  Hopefully I will get usable versions of his pictures soon, because the descriptions he sent below seem very entertaining.]

I feel like the "niple canter" photo needs a little explanation.  There´s a store here called "niple center" that sells hose fittings and such. I thought it was funny, so I took a picture. That´s basically it.

In another photo is Optimus Prime made out of crap. I thought it was cool, so once again, I took a picture.

In the photo with me wearing random tratitional stuff, a member had a bunch of random traditional Bolivian stuff, so my companion and I donned the stuff and took some pics.

I have so much more that I wish I could write, but sadly, there´s no time, so until next week,
-Elder Casdorph

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Worth It

I`ve been in Bolivia since Tuesday, spent a day and a half doing paperwork and orientation and all sorts of boring stuff like that. I got my companion and entered my area Thursday night.

My companion is from the Dominican Republic.  He likes baseball and basketball and telling jokes.  He has a bunch of jokes that he tells that other people seem to think are funny, but I can`t understand what he saying.  A couple of his jokes I have practically memorized, but I still have no idea what they mean.

I rarely know what`s going on. I never know what people are saying, where I am, where I`m going, whether the person I`m talking to is a member or not, or what I`m eating.  Despite this, things have gone fairly well.  The members seem to like me and are actually impressed with the amount of Spanish that I know considering how little I have studied it.  We have had some pretty good lessons and contacts, and I have personally extended 4 successful baptismal commitments, so I should theoretically have some baptisms in a couple weeks.

I have eaten basically everything that people have given to me except for a few glasses of bad water. As a result of this, I (like many South American missionaries) have had pretty bad diarhea for the past 20 hours, but I`m sure it will pass eventually and even if it doesn`t, the missionary work is worth it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bueno Chiste

"Whole district with our new jerseys"

Not much new has happened this week. Everyday, I just learn Spanish, practice teaching, eat, study, and not play anywhere near as much soccer as I want to.  I am excited for the teaching to be real and meaningful, but also a little bit worried about the field. The excitement definitely outweighs my worries though.    

"This is just a picture that I really like because Nephi isn´t
ridiculously ripped like he is in every other picture.  I also
like that it is a picture of the boat actually in progress." 
On Friday, Elder Christopherson of the quorum of the 12 is coming to speak to us and the 5 missions in Lima.  I will be singing in a choir for that and the whole experience should be pretty awesome.  A few days ago, some of the teachers convinced us that he had come early and wanted to talk to all of us.  We franctically cleaned our district room, organized all of our books and straightened our ties in preparation for his coming.  After doing so, the teachers informed us that they had lied and were happy that we did such a good job of cleaning our room, but Elder Christopherson was not actually there.  They laughed at us a little bit, and we congratulated them for their bueno chiste [courtesy translation from Andrea: good joke, although according to Google, he should have said "buen chiste"].  It should be pretty sweet when he actually comes though.

Sorry for the short email, but that´s all I´ve got this week. 

 Until next time,
 Elder Casdorph

[Good thing he sent me lots of pictures. - A]

Top: "An armored police car thing and a random guy who walked in front of the camera."
Bottom: "The fattest flying bird I have ever seen."

Some of the sights of Lima.

Left: "Elder Cann, my American companion"
Right: "Elder Franco, my awesome Latino companion who I miss now"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I´ve Got Scriptures and Pamphlets a-plenty

Things are going just fine here.  Last Wednesday we got to go out into downtown Lima and see some of the big cathedrals and governments buildings.  They were pretty cool looking of course and had a bunch of sweet statues and fountains.  We also got to go to a market type place where there were a bunch of small soccer jersey shops and also some shops where they sold Peruvian bags and leatherworked stuff. I got 2 nice soccer jerseys (one for Peru and a cool bright orange one that I´m honestly not sure what team they are, but I think it´s Italy) and a nice leather camera case/ holster for about 16 American dollars.  The missionary handbook says that we are never to look like a tourist at any time, but we were definitely tourists that day and it was a lot of fun.

Everybody´s humor here is gradually getting more missionary-like as we start referencing scriptures and Preach My Gospel in our jokes rather than referencing movies and songs.  Sadly, the transformation became complete for me when as I was showering as I thought of how to change the words of "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid to apply to a missionary in the MTC.  I´m not sure that I want this cheesiness posted on an internet blog, but many of you will probable enjoy it, I will type it anyway.

Look at this stuff, isn´t it neat? wouldn´t you think that my training´s complete? Wouldn´t you think that I am the Elder with everything?  I´ve got scriptures and pamphlets a-plenty, testimonies galore. You want experiences? I´ve got 20! But who cares? No big deal, I want more!

I wanna go where the people are. I wanna see investigators progessin', walkin around on those what do you call em? Pies (pronounced pee a´s Spanish for feet). Out where we´ll talk, out where we´ll teach, out where we´ll bless, baptise and preach. Proselyting, wish I could be part of that world.

What would I give if I could live outside CCM (say-say-emmay, MTC in spanish)? What would I pay to spend a day in Santa Cruz? I bet that out there that they don´t care if you head the ball in soccer.  Tired of teaching the same fake people, ready to stand.

Repeat chorus

I had some sweet pictures of Lima as well as my district all in our soccer jerseys, but I apparently lost the flashdrive that I had in my pocket with all of them. I´ve still got them on my camera, but I don´t have my camera right now, so it will have to wait until next week.

Until then, if anyone wants to write me, use 'cause physical mail doen´t get here.

Until next time,
 - Elder Casdorph

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Avoid Pedestrians When It's Convenient

On Saturdays, my Latino companion and I, as well as a field missionary or member from the area go out for about 4 hours and teach less-active members.  My companion and the other guy honestly do most of the talking. The first time, I only understood about 1/3 of what was being said and the second time, I understood a little over half.  When people are actually home and decide to answer the door, they have always let us in and we have had a nice lesson. Many of these lessons have actually been quite powerful and the spirit has been very strong.

The city is kinda crazy. There seem to be very few driving rules other than try not to get hit and avoid pedestrians when it´s convenient.  The houses are pretty much all concrete walls and then depending on how nice the house is, it may have a legitimate ceiling or just some aluminum siding or plywood resting on top of the walls.  There are dogs about every 12 feet in the part of the city where I was.  Some of them are grossly dirty, but a lot of them look happy and friendly.  I am not allowed to touch them however because they might bite me and give me rabies.

The Latinos and experienced Americans all left yesterday, so now my group is the experienced ones.  Last night, new Latinos and Americans started pouring in, but I haven´t really had the chance to talk to them yet.

For P-day today, we get to go into downtown Lima and go to a couple soccer jersey shops and some other shops where they sell like Peruvian bags and stuff.  I´m probably gonna get a soccer jersey or two cause they are pretty cheap here and they will be nice to wear on P-days and to gym.

I hope to keep hearing from people whether by email or, but physical mail doesn´t really get here, so you probably shouldn´t try any of that.

Until next time,
Elder Casdorph

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I don´t have much to say this week other that life here is difficult, and there is a TON of Spanish, but it is great.

We went out into the real world on Saturday to teach less-active members.  I went with my Latino companion and an actual missionary in the field, so I definitely relied on them a LOT.  I only understood about 25% of what was said and only spoke about 10% of the time.  I can understand the Spanish-speakers here pretty well, but Spanish with an old-person accent is basically impossible to understand. People kept rambling off large amounts of Spanish and then out of nowhere just turn to me and say, "Usted?" which means "you?"  Then I would struggle through Spanish trying to answer the question that they may or may not have actually been asking, and the Latinos would resume speaking at a million miles an hour.

Despite all of this, my Latino companion says that I am the best Spanish speaker out of the Americans at the MTC, which was really nice to hear.  I will miss him when he goes out into the field in a week.

I wish I time to say more than that, but I don't, so bye.

-Elder Casdorph

Picture Updates

The four headed to Santa Cruz: at the Provo MTC, then showing off alpaca ties purchased in Lima for $5.72

(Recounted by Andrea)  When Jack called home during his layover on the way to Peru, he told me they'd invented a version of basketball that they would play in their room.  After discovering that a hole in the top of the drawer unit led conveniently to the top drawer, they used a few tennis balls someone had found to create an in-room game.

(Left to Right): with Elder Merrill - Provo MTC Companion; with Elder Casperson - wearing surprisingly similar ties; with  Elder Chronister - the recipient of about 100 fat jokes in the MTC, 70% of which were delivered by Jack

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Peru CCM

The Peru MTC, or CCM in spanish, is Awesome!  The first day was crazy, they made us all get buzz cuts, do a bunch of paperwork, and none of us could understand anything that the people in charge were saying.  I couldn´t even understand my own companion.  As the days rolled along the Americans have learned a lot more Spanish and are now actually able to understand real Spanish (except when 2 Latinos are talking to each other, cause that is still way too fast).  Now, I am able to communicate easily with my Latino companion.  He usually speaks in English and I speak in Spanish, that way we both practice the language we are trying to learn.  The Latinos are all going to Spanish speaking missions, but they are still trying to learn as much English from us as they can. I actually have one of the best English speaking companions in the whole CCM, and he says that I am the best Spanish speaker out of all of the new American missionaries, so we have a much easier time communicating than most of the companionships.

I have an American companion as well for class and for teaching "investigators", but there is nothing new about working with a white guy who speaks English, so I don´t really have anything to say about him.

The food here is actually pretty good.  I haven´t been so adventurous as to eat everything in sight, but I have eaten a lot of semi-gross-looking things that I would have never tried in America. Most of these have been pretty good and the ones that weren´t good, I ate anyway.

My favorite time of the day by far is gym time.  Usually during this time, I play soccer with the Latinos, but I have also done basketball and volleyball. As expected, the Latinos are very good at futbol. I have been able to hold my own just fine though because while almost all of them have me beat in skill, I have them beat in speed, and for the first time ever in my life, I have the upper-hand in strength and height (by upper-hand I mean that I am average strength and height for a Latino, but compared to what I´m used to, I feel like a giant).

The Latinos have a suprisingly large knowledge of American culture. They frequently sing songs such as "We are the champions" and other American songs.  They also have knowlede of "Forest Gump", "The Avengers", "Rocky", "Tarzan", "The Karate Kid", and seemingly every major American movie.

We have so much more freedom here than at Provo.  They were so many people at Provo, and it was so self enclosed that it honestly felt like a prison. Here, although we are definately sheltered from the real South America that lies just outside the walls, it feels so much more open and free.  The windows here actually open, and we are actually allowed to leave the classroom and even go outside to study.  The weather here is also fantastic. It is suposedly winter here, so it is always between 60 and 75 degrees.

Sorry, I was gonna send some pictures home, but I forgot to bring my camera into the computer lab, so no pics till next week.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ñ á é í ó ú

I arrived at the Peru MTC last night at 3 in the morning and immediately passed out on my bed. They let us sleep in until 9 which was nice. Many things are very different here. The showers aparrently only have 2 settings: freezing cold and skin melting hot. There is a faucet for cold water and a faucet for hot water, but it is impossible to get any mixture of cold and hot water at the same time.  The grass is weird, it´s hard to explain how its weird, it just is.  My fruit loops this morning tasted nothing like fruit loops, but I ate them anyway.  I am currently typing on a weird Spanish keyboard that makes it really easy to do this: ñ á é í ó ú but the punctuation is in strange places.  The climate so far is really nice.

I met my new companion; he is from Ecuador and speaks no English.  I speak very little Spanish, so we don´t talk much.  He seems like a nice guy though. I think my p-day is on Wednesdays now, but I don't know.  There seem to be just about as many white missionaries as there are Latino missionaries and most of the staff speak decent English.  I still need to learn a lot of Spanish quickly to have any idea what is going on.

I should probably write again in a week, but I don´t really know.  The computer interface here is a bit more normal, so I should be able to email pictures now, but I don´t know for sure. Sorry for the disjointedness of this email, but I don´t have much time and the keyboard is really weird, so...

Until next time
-Elder  Jack Casdorph

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Con Amor

Editor's Comment:
Life in the MTC looks a
little strange and distant, too.
The second week here has gone by so much faster than the first and it's crazy to think that I will be leaving for the Peru MTC on Tuesday.  It seems like I just got here, but at the same time, life before the MTC feels strange and distant.

On Friday, my "investigator" from the first week walked into my class and started speaking English.  It turns out that he is actually the second teacher of my class.  He gave us some feedback on our lessons and told us a bit about his real self.  Although he is bilingual in English and Spanish (he's Latino), he served his mission in Mongolia.  He also said that he threw some Mongolian into our lessons just to freak-out the young missionaries who don't even know the difference between Spanish and Mongolian.  This week, both of our teachers have been playing the part of different investigators, one named "Gabriel" and the other named "Rogelio."  We have taught them every day this week.  The Spanish is slowly coming along and we are probably about 70% off-script in our lessons now, but there is still that 30% that we have to read.

The Companion
Things have been going fine with my companion and my district, although my district can get pretty crazy sometimes.  I try to get the most out of my 55 minutes of allotted fun time that I can, usually by playing beach volleyball.

Although I'm a little worried about going to Peru, it will be nice to get out of the MTC here.  I really only ever see 3 places, my room, the classroom, and the cafeteria, so I'm starting to get a pretty good case of cabin fever.  It also seems like I really only see the same 15 or 20 people even though there's like thousands of missionaries here.  On Tuesday, though, I will be in a whole new country and be begging for some familiarity.  I hope that everything is going fine in the outside word and I'm not sure when I'll be writing home next, but I do know that it will be from Peru.

Con Amor,
Elder Casdorph

Some fun pictures:

The District

There is a tree here that smells like cream soda, (I don't know how or why,
it just does) so that is why I have a picture of someone smelling a tree.
Headed to the Mexico City West Mission

Headed to Mexico City South


Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Truth Can Defend Itself

I always used to wonder how missionaries could learn an entire language in just 2 or 3 months in the MTC.  After spending a week here, I think I know the answer: work, work , and more work.  We spend literally all day studying and about 3/4 of that time is devoted to learning Spanish.  We speak as much Spanish as we can with each other even during the 1 hour a day that we get to play sports.  Our teacher never speaks English (he can, it's his 1st language, but he never does).  We even do all of our praying and singing in Spanish.  I can say this method works though.  I've already learned about as much Spanish as I did from 2 years of Spanish in high school (I've definately gotten some help from the spirit in learning it too).  Definitely the hardest and scariest thing that we've had to do so far is teach an investigator* Spanish...4 different times.  We have to read from lesson plans that we've prepared beforehand cause we're not good enough to just speak it yet.  Then the investigator* will ask us questions that will force us off-script, so we just awkwardly fumble over the words as we attempt to answer him and often fail at saying anything that actually makes sense.  It's a ridiculous emotional roller coaster here.  At one moment, you'll be thinking, "Yeah! I just learned a whole bunch of words and the spirit will help me with the rest, I'm ready to convert the world!"  Then you'll realize an hour later that all you know how to say is "the church is true" and "where's the bathroom" and start worrying about how all the native-speakers are just gonna laugh at you.  I have seen elders here who will in the same day cry out of joy and then later out of frustration. I have seen a whole bunch of people here that I know, including: Elder Casperson; Elder Zollinger; Elders Jefferson Vick, Eric Judd, Josh Haertel, Chase Noel, and Adam Mower. I have also seen Stephen Arroyo's sister who is a teacher here.  It's awesome to see people that I know looking all grown up and missionary-like.

My companion is a pretty cool guy who is from Salt Lake City and went to East High.  We are about equal in Spanish knowledge and we usually work pretty well together.  In addition to my companion, there are 2 other elders who are going to Santa Cruz and 8 others in my district who are going to Mexico City.  They are all awesome, funny guys with powerful testimonies.  It's often very difficult to study around them though because they are a pretty loud, rambunctious group.  One time, they were being particularly loud and not studying at all.  I couldn't take it anymore, so I said a quick mental prayer that they would quiet down and regain focus.  Right as I said, "amen" and opened my eyes again, my district leader stood up and told them all to quiet down and listen to the spirit because without the spirit, we wouldn't be able to learn Spanish.  After that, nobody really said a word and we did the best studying that we've ever done.

We've had some pretty awesome devotionals and firesides while we've been here. In the last one, the speaker said something that I really liked.  He said, "The truth can defend itself, just as force always equals mass times acceleration, and that will always be true, the gospel will always be true." This really hit home for me probably because he used as an example the equation that I have probably used about 500 times and never once found it to be wrong.

Please write to me because in this crazy missionary world, letters and sports are all that I have to keep me sane. I can't wait to see you all again in 2 years and tell you all of my awesome missionary experiences, but for now, I'll just keep writing home whenever I get the chance.

P.S. my p-day is Thursday, so you can expect emails and stuff on Thursdays.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Farewell Talk

To those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jack Casdorph, and I will be leaving on July 5th to serve a Spanish-speaking mission in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. 

Before giving me my topic for this talk, Bishop Shaver asked me what my favorite part of the scriptures was.  Caught somewhat off-guard by the question, I answered, “1st Nephi because at this point all of the stories and experiences are on a personal or family level.”  As I thought about this more, I came to realize that this is not the main reason that I like 1st Nephi.  I like 1st Nephi because I can really relate to Nephi, not because of his unwavering faith when he broke his bow, and certainly not because he was large in stature.  I relate to Nephi because although he became a great prophet and leader, he starts out as a boy who is simply following his parents and the prophet (who in his case, happen to be the same people).  He follows his father’s example on many occasions.  One specific case of him following his father’s example is after his father, Lehi, has his vision of the tree of life.  After Lehi told his family about his vision, Nephi decides that he would like to have a vision too, just like dad, so he prays to have the same vision as his father and receives an answer.  

In his writing in the book of Mormon, the very first thing that Nephi writes is, “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father.”  Nephi’s parents’ examples and leadership were so important to him that they were the very first thing that he wrote about.  Like Nephi, I too have been born of goodly parents and have been taught somewhat by my parents and church leaders, and I am very grateful that I have had so many people in my life that I can look up to.  While not all of us may have had the good fortune of being born to goodly parents, we all have great people in our lives that we can look up to.

(Positive Example Not Shown)
Anybody can be an example, whether they are parents, church leaders, friends, siblings, or even fictional movie characters.  It is good to have examples to look up to in our lives.  As the youngest in my family and having 3 older sisters, I have been able to use portions of my sisters’ lives as examples of both what to do and what not to do.

While family members are very large examples in most people’s lives, an equally large source of examples is your friends.  It has been said that, “you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends.”  Because friends are huge examples in our lives and we can choose our friends, it is very important that we choose good friends.  This doesn’t mean that we have to choose friends who are perfect members of the church or even church members at all.  A good friend is simply someone who encourages you to be a better person and helps you in your time of need.  The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet says, “Choose friends who share your values so you can strengthen and encourage each other in living high standards.  A true friend will encourage you to be your best self.”  An important friend requirement that I believe the For Strength of Youth overlooks is that a friend should be fun.  There is nothing wrong with having fun with your friends, in fact, that’s what friends are for.  Just make sure that while you are having fun with your friends that they are encouraging you to better yourself.

Just as important as following good examples is being a good example.  Just as the people around us can affect our actions and decisions, our examples affect those around us.  While in Indiana for school this past year, I was around many people who had little or no experience with members of the church, so I was in a position to greatly alter their perception of Mormons.  I knew that based on my actions, people might decide that Mormons were a bunch were a bunch of hypocritical, self-righteous people who thought that they were better than everyone else, or that Mormons are kind, loving people devoted to service and helping others.  I’d like to think that I conveyed the latter.  On one occasion, right after one guy found out that I was Mormon, he immediately asked, “do you go to church every Sunday?” I answered with a confident, “Yes,” to which he replied, “alright, good man.”  I am thankful that I had been living my life in such a way that I could answer that question with a yes rather than saying, “not since my parents stopped making me go,” or, “only on Christmas and Easter.”  I hope that in the future whenever I am asked questions like that, I will be able to answer yes.  As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we are examples of our church and our actions determine whether we are good examples or bad ones.

I think that it is especially important to be good example to the children around us.  One of the songs from the musical Into the Woods entitled Children Will Listen says:

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say "Listen to me"
Children will listen
I challenge all of you to take special care to be good examples around your children, younger siblings, and any other kids that you come in contact with.  Although children may seem to ignore you or not care about what you have to say, they still take notice of just about everything that you do.

I am about to serve a mission which will be the biggest thing that I have done in my life so far.  It is also one of the greatest ways that I can be a positive example.  I hope that my example may encourage some of the members of this ward to serve a mission.  I also really hope that when it is time for my three little nephews to decide whether or not to go on a mission that they will remember that their super-cool Uncle Jack went on a mission.

I would like to say that I am glad that I was called on a mission even though I was told that I was supposed to grow a foot or two first.  I am so excited for this opportunity, and while I am truly excited, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am also a little bit terrified.  I will be going from a white kid from Utah who has never left the country to a resident of Bolivia who is expected to know Spanish.  Yo sé un poco de español, y quiero aprender mucho más.  I just said that I know a tiny bit of Spanish and I am happy for the opportunity to leard a whole lot more.  In fact, it took just about all of my Spanish knowledge just to say that, and I had to use google translate to make sure that I wasn’t saying something ridiculous like Elder Groberg in The Other Side of Heaven who says that he was called to serve as one of the Lord’s outhouses instead of one of the Lord’s missionaries.  On top of learning a whole new language, I am entrusted with the intimidating task of teaching people the gospel and inviting them to come unto Christ.  To be honest, I don’t think that I would be able to do this alone.  I take comfort in the fact of knowing that I will not be alone.  I am confident that I will have great companions to help me along the way, and I know that I will have the Holy Ghost to be my guide. Proverbs chapter 3 vs. 5 and 6 say:
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
While I will be doing what I can to increase my own knowledge and understanding of the gospel, I know that in the end, I must trust in the lord with all my heart and that he will direct my paths. I also know that with Christ, all things are possible. One of my favorite scriptures is Helaman chapter 5 vs. 12. It says:
12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. 
This scripture has always been a great comfort to me. Whenever I feel like I have, “hail and a mighty storm beating upon me” I read this scripture and remember that we have Christ on our side, we cannot fall.  I also love how this scripture doesn’t say that He will stop the mighty winds.  We will always have trials in our lives and sometimes these trials may seem too great for us to bear, but if we truly build our foundation on Christ, we cannot fall.

I would like to bear my testimony that I truly do know that this church is true.  I believe in his true and living prophets that are on the Earth today.  I know that the Lord has called me to serve a mission in Bolivia and I cannot wait to answer the call.  I believe in Jesus Christ and am grateful for His atonement. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.