Monday, December 30, 2013

Navidad en Bermejo

Christmas went pretty well here. Christmas Eve we went caroling in the central plaza.  My companion and I sang a solo in English, well actually I sang a solo, he sang a solo, and then we sang together.  To those of you who have heard the song, we sang the Sheep Song written by my sister, Andrea Fife.  If I can get the internet to cooperate, I will send a video.

[From the editor: Jack said the video was too big to email.  He had to convert it to audio.  It's not great quality (tons of background noise), but it was fun to listen to Jack's voice (Kirk says he's developing quite a vibrato) and to hear the second part sung with an accent.  I feel pretty honored that my song made it to another country.]


We spent Christmas morning carpiendo (doing a service Project of cutting the weeds in a member´s lot with a machete).  Then after an asado (delicious barbeque with grilled beef and arroz con queso [arroz con queso means rice with cheese, but it´s way tastier than it sounds]) we proselyted for a couple of hours and then got to talk to our families in Skype.  This week went pretty well for everybody.  Bermejo has now gone from being the zone that only had one baptism in 3 months to being the best zone in the mission for 2 months in a row.

The next exchanges are this Wednesday, and I hope that I can stay in Bermejo.  It´s awesome now, because Bermejo is a small town, so everywhere I go, I see investigators and recent converts from the other areas.  I have really grown to love that small town friendliness that exists between the members, the missionaries and the people in general.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Navidad Blanca

We had a conference in Tarija Friday (A city close to Bermejo that´s a lot bigger and has more than double the missionaries here).  On the windy 3 hour drive to Tarija, 2 elders threw up, and my companion and I were also just 1 step away from joining the club (probably because our inner child had told us the night before that it would be a good idea to eat a whole pizza the night before a 3 hour monte russo [roller coaster]).  We arrived and every zone sang Christmas songs that we had prepared.  After the other zones went and sang standard songs from the hymnbook, we blew them away with a Sally DeFord arrangement of Oh Holy Night (with a solo by Elder Casdorph).

We are excited for the noche blanca that we will have this Saturday, although this time, it will only be 14 people getting baptized because 10 of them had scheduling conflicts and had to get baptized a week early.  All the members are excited for what will soon be the Bermejo Stake (probably in May or June, the district here will become a stake).

All is going well here and I´ll let you know more next week.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cristian y la familia Gutierrez

We have an investigator that will be getting baptised this week, whose name is Vicente Rios, but I don´t feel like writing about him today (I´ll probably write some stuff about him next week) I would rather write about the Gutierrez familily.

The Gutierrez family is a large family of about 30 people (with all of the cousins, uncles, grandkits, etc.)  They are all members, but out of the 30ish people, there are only 2 that actually go to church regularly and 1 of those 2 is mentally handicapped.  We have been teaching to a couple members of this family to try to activate them.  Sunday we decided to plan a giant family home evening Saturday with the 30 of them plus their friends that they could invite, and the whole family was exited for the family home evening.  Wednesday, they called us with the news that Christian, a young 19 year old member of the family had been murdered.

That was devistating news obviosly for the whole family, and also left me pretty bummed out because I had taught Cristian like 5 or 6 times and considered him a good friend.  It also left, the community pretty worried because bermejo is a small town and things like this don´t normally happen here.

I´m not going to go very much into the details, but Cristian, although he was a good kid, he did have the reputation of being a mujeriego (player, or cheater).  What the police and the family think is what happened was that he was going out with someone´s girlfriend, and that that person got mad and drunk and killed him, especially because they found some threating text messages of that nature.

They asked us to go to the viewing as well as the funeral, and we went to comfort the family.  In the viewing, his aunt had a panic attack and we gave her a priesthood blessing of comfort.

We asked the grandma (who is the only active member and basically the head of the whole family) if she still wanted to do the family home evening.  She replied, "claro que sí, seguimos egual".  We did the family home evening with the whole family, which was a beatiful experience in the which we talked to them a TON do about temples and the need that they all had to go to the temple and the need that they had to do the work for themselves and for Christian..  Even more beatiful was that yesterday, the entire family of 30ish people came to church.  They took up like 4 rows in the chapel.  Afterward all of the adults in the family lined up outside of the branch president´s office because they wanted to be interviewed.  There were so many that the district president (who also happened to be there) had to help with the interviews.  The branch president later told us that pretty much all of them had the goal to go to the temple in January and they asked for interviews to ask how to prepare for the temple!

I´ll let you know more about them and Vicente next week,
Elder Casdorph

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Consejo De Lideres

If you´re wondering why I didn´t write anything, it´s because my companion and I had to go to Santa Cruz Monday and Tuesday for a meeting with the all of the Zone leaders in the mission and President Willard.  I have very little to write, other that that thanks to our awesome noche blanca, we finished as the best zone in the whole mission for the month of November.  We only hope to be able to keep it up and have an even better month in December.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, November 18, 2013

Noche Blanca un éxito

As always I have very little time to write, but I just want to say that we pulled off the 20 baptisms in the noche blanca.  It was a beautiful experience for all involved.  It looked like we weren´t gonna be able to do it, but thanks to some last-minute miracles (probably due to the prayers of all of you) we were able to do it.  We are planning another one for the 21st of December.

In other news,my companion has been called as the new assistant to the President and is en route to Santa Cruz right now, and I am companion-less until the cambios this Wednesday.

Sorry, I want to write more, but I have to send 20 registros bautismales to the mission offices, and there´s no time

Elder Casdorph


Monday, November 11, 2013

Hospital para los infermos (iglesia para los borrachos)

We were super happy yesterday because every single one of our investigators with baptismal dates came to church and the less active members that we were teaching also came.  The sad thing was that Reinaldo, who was supposed to be getting baptised Saturday, came to church.....drunk.

He arrived an hour and a half late, so the members (trying to be helpful) directed him to the sunday school class.  I saw him in the door and told him to come in.  Then, to my dismay, I noticed that he was walking a bit funny and stubling a lot.  He sat next to me, and putting his face uncomfortably close to mine, he said in a voice much louder than the occasion required, "¿Cómo essstá, herrrmánou !?"  From his breath and tone of voice, it was obvious that he was drunk.  As my companion tried to teach the class, he kept trying to talk to me rather loudly.  I had to escort him out of the class as my companion kept teaching.  Outside, he told me about all sorts of problems with his family.  He cried a bit, yelled a bit, and every couple of minutes asked me for money to go buy something to eat.  Fearing that he would use the money to buy more booze, I told him that I´d go with him to buy him some lunch, but that I couldn´t separate myself from my companion and that we´d have to wait until he finished teaching the class.

 My companion finished the class, and the 2 of us now started to talk to Reinaldo.  Reinaldo was mad at Elder Brasher for not wanting to talk to him.  Elder Brasher explained that he DID want to talk to him, but he couldn´t leave behind the class of like 12 other investigators, a recent convert, and 4 less-active members.  Reinaldo yelled at Elder Brasher, called him a wolf in sheep´s clothing and told him that he should have left the 99 sheep to save the other lost sheep.  After talking a bit more, Reinaldo suddenly decided that he was a bit happier and as we were talking (in the sidewalk outside of the church) he decided to sing....really loudly.  He sang suprisingly well, and we congratulated him, saying that we had no idea that he had such pipes.  He asked us again for money to go buy some food, and we took him to a nearby restaurant, bought him some grilled fish, and left him there eating happily as we called his wife to tell her where he was.

His wife later told us that when he talked to her later, that he was really worried that after what happened we wouldn´t come and visit him any more.  We told her that we would still visit him and help him with his goal of being alcohol free, being a good father, and getting baptised.

On the other hand, our other investigators are coming along quite swimmingly and we will have 3 baptisms this Saturday, and 1 more the following week.

Elder Casdorph


ps the pic is of Reinaldo a week ago, when he came to church sober and smiling 
pps: We now made the noche blanca shirts and are super excited for the 19 baptisms that we will have Saturday (sadly with, the fall of Reinaldo and a couple others we fell just short of our goal of 20 baptisms)
 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Noche blanca y Reinaldo

As I wrote last week, we are planning a noche blanca (night of a whole lot of baptisms) for the 16th of November.  We have the potential of baptizing 25 people (in the 4 branches in Bermejo) and 6 of those 25 baptisms will be my companion and I´s investigators.  We have the potential of doing it, but it will require a ton of work, prayers and miracles.

One of the fantastic investigators that will be getting baptized that day is Reinaldo.  I´m sorry, I don´t have much time to write about him, so I copied and pasted what I wrote about him to my mission president.  Sorry, it´s in Spanish, but I hope that google translate does the story justice.

Tuvimos muchos milagros con todos de nuestros investigadores éste semana.  Uno de esos es Reinaldo Orado, un investigador en nuestra área que tuvo un gran milagro éste semana. Él es el "esposo" de una menos activa en nuestra rama que recién vine desde el campo de Santa Cruz y quiere cambiarse y ser mejor padre. Sábado le enseñamos la Doctrina de Cristo y invitamos a bautismo para el 23. Él acceptó y estaba tan animado a bautizarse que pidió que adelantamos la fecha! 

Él dijo, "Oigan, hermanos. Ya estoy 9 meses sin alcohol, y estoy haciendo muchos cambios para estar mas con mi familia y voy a ir con ellos cada Domingo a la iglesia. Siento que debo bautizarme y quiero esto "nuevo comienzo" el mas pronto posible. Me dijieron que iba a ver muchos bautismos el 16. Depende de ustedes, yo no sé, pero ¿creen ustedes que yo puedo estar listo el 16?"

Sintiendo tan felices, le dijimos que si. Le di un folleto de la ley de castidad para leer antes de la próxima cita.

Ayer en la iglesia nos dijo, "Oigan hermanos, yo estaba leyendo el librito que me dieron, como yo quiero bautizarme no, como les dijo y allí dijo que para bautizarme tengo que estar casado, y yo no estoy casado."

Luego el habló con el presidente de rama y le dijo que quería casarse y bautizarse.

Estamos super-felices para él y para todos.

The Google Translate / Andrea-edited version:
We had many miracles with all of our investigators this week. One of those is Reinaldo Orado, an investigator in our area that had a great miracle this week. He is the "husband " of a less active in our branch that just came from the area of ​​Santa Cruz and wants to change and be a better father. Saturday we taught the doctrine of Christ and invited him to baptism for the 23rd. He was so animated [that after he accepted and asked how] to be baptized, we advanced the date!
He said, "Hey, brothers, [for 9] months I [have had] no alcohol, and am making many changes to be more with my family, and I will go with them to church every Sunday. [I am excited] to be baptized, and I want this "new start " soon as possible. I was [already] going to see many baptisms on the 16th. [It] depends on you; I do not know, but do you think that I can be ready the 16th?"
Feeling so happy, we said yes . I gave him a brochure of the law of chastity to read before the next appointment.
Yesterday at church said , "Hey brother, I was reading the book I got, as I want to be baptized now, as I said, and there [it said] that to be baptized [I have] to be married, and I'm not married."
Then he spoke with the branch president and said he wanted to marry and be baptized. 
We're super happy for him and for everything.

I´ll let you all know more about the noche blanca next week.  We are gonna go to Santa Cruz Monday and Tuesday, so I won´t get the chance to write home until Wednesday, but at that point, all of the baptisms for the 16th should be in the bag.  I hope all is going well back in the states and hope to hear from you guys too.

Elder Casdorph

ps. we´re making t-shirts for the noche blanca, and attatched is the design that my companion and I made.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Noche Blancazo

In the zone of Bermejo (by the way I´m zone leader now), we are planning a noche blanco (white night), which is a day when a whole ton of people get baptized, for November 16.  We have been trying to excite the zone for a few weeks to search and teach like crazy to prepare people to be baptized the 16th.  Right now, we have more that 20 people with baptismal dates to be baptized the 16th.  In the 3 months before I arrived in Bermejo, only 1 person got baptized, September was 5 people, and October was 4 people.  Now we´re talking 20 people...in the same day.  All of the members and missionaries are super-pumped for the 16th and my companion and I as the zone leaders have promised that if we have more that 20 baptisms that day, we will call the mission president and beg him to come to Bermejo to preside the baptismal service.

I´ll let you all know next week if we´re gonna have the 20 that we´re hoping for.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, October 21, 2013

El mismo Bermejo

Very little to report here.  Everything is pretty much the same here in Bermejo.  Everything is going great between Elder Brasher and I.  Many of our investigators stopped progressing, so in this week, we were starting over finding new people and knocking a TON of doors.  It is interesting because my companion and I actually really like knocking doors.  Elder Brasher has a special rock that he uses to knock the doors that he has carried around with him for like 10 months now.  I also have my own toca-puerta(doorknocker) that is a rusty, old bolt that I have been carrying aroung in my pocket every day for a couple of months.  We have found some great, new investigators in this week, and we will see how things go with them.

It´s hot here now. Really hot. And they say that it´s only gonna get hotter.  There is honestly very little to report here, especially because my computer keeps randomly turning off every 8 minutes, but I promise an awesome email full of exciting stories next week.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, October 14, 2013

El Gran Cambio a la Rama Bolivar

The exchanges came (exchanges? I´m pretty sure thats how you say cambios in English) and I got...changed?...transferred? I´m sorry.  My English is severely suffering, but the point of the story is that I am now serving in a new area and with a new companion.  I am still in Bermejo, but now in a different area.  In the house where I was living there are 2 companionships or 2 areas.  I got changed from one of these areas to the other, so my big transfer just meant moving all of my stuff across the hall.  I still live in the same house as my old companion, so I still get to ask him how things are going with Fernando, the branch, and our investigators.

My new area is Bolivar 1 (the old one was 1 de Mayo 1), and my new companion is Elder Brasher from Oklahoma.  This is my first time in the whole mission being with a gringo companion and what makes it even better is that we are from the same group and were in the same district in the MTC in Lima, Peru.  It´s cool to see how much we have both progressed after leaving the MTC.  We get along great and all is going just fine.

When I went to church on Sunday, a ton of the members told me, "you look just like the Elder that is in the other branch!" and I enjoyed responding, "I am the elder that was in the other branch."  Anyways, there are a lot of new things with being in a new area, but at the same time, I´m still living in the same house, so everything feels pretty much the same.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fernando Mercado

Today, I wanted to write about our recent convert, Fernando Mercado. He´s such an interesting person, that it will be impossible to convey who he really is with just words and pictures, but those are the only means that I have to describe him so they will have to suffice.

When we found Fernando, he seemed like just a long-haired guy without a job who lived with his mom.  He lacked social skills, such as eye contact and bathing regularly.  The first time we talked to him, he didn´t even want to talk to us, but we sensed something special about him, so after 20 minutes of talking to him through the window, we persuaded him to accept that we could come beck the next day at 3 in the afternoon. We returned the next day, and after some more persuading, he accepted us into his house.

He entered into his room a few minutes and then came out with an old Book of Mormon in his hand.  He showed it to us and we found out that he had read the whole book and marked his favorite parts with blue highlighter.

He told us that a few years ago the missionaries had visited his sister and given her the Book of Mormon.  A year ago Fernando (who told us that he was never really the religious type) decided to read a bible that someone else had given to his grandpa many years ago.  The person who had given this Bible to his grandpa had written something in the cover about finding the true religion and that when he read that, he felt a strong desire to find the true religion or true church.

He started reading, and really liked what he read, so he kept reading until he read the WHOLE thing.  He said that at the end, he read something that Moroni wrote that told him that he had to pray to know if it was true.  I assume that he was referring to Moroni 10:3-5 which says:

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

 4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

 5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

He said that he prayed and that the holy ghost testified to him that it was true.

That whole experience with the book of Mormon happened BEFORE we even knew him.

Despite having a testimony, Fernando had a great deal of mountains to cross before getting baptized.  At first, he didn´t want to go to church because he didn´t feel worthy. Later, he didn´t want to go to the activities because of his basic fear of crowds and people. Later, he didn´t want to get baptized because he didn´t feel fully repented.  During this month, I have seen Fernando change.  In such a short time, he went from a shy, antisocial, long-haired kid - to the guy with one of the most beautiful testimonies of the Book of Mormon that I have ever heard, but didn´t want to go to church - to the young man who thought that he wasn´t worthy to participate in the atonement of Jesus Christ - the guy that a day before his baptism randomly decided that it would be a good idea to go with the missionaries and get a haircut - the shy kid who didn´t want to leave the bathroom in his baptismal clothing because he was too shy - the new convert who despite his shyness, decided on his own to bear un hermoso testimonio (beautiful testimony) in the baptismal service - the recent convert who went to all 5 sessions of General Conference and has now been interviewed to receive the Aaronic Priesthood.

Two weeks ago, he wouldn´t even look us in the eye when he shook our hands.  Now he goes with us on missionary visits, jokes with the investigators, greets everyone with some-sort of goofy secret handshake, and shares his powerful testimony fearlessly with everybody that we talk to.

I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have been given to know and teach Fernando, and I anxiously await the day when I get to hear about his mission call.

-Elder Casdorph















Monday, September 9, 2013

Bermejo Part 2

I would like to tell you all a bit more about Bermejo.  Bermejo was formerly part of the mission Cochabamba, Bolivia, but is now part of the Santa Cruz mission due to the mission split in Santa Cruz.  This is the first transfer cycle in which missionaries from the Santa Cruz mission have entered into Bermejo, so the majority of the missionaries here are from the Cochabamba mission.  The Cochabamba mission was extremely loose in regards to following the mission rules, so many of the missionaries have a lot of trouble with obeying the rules and as their district leader, I will be helping them to obey better.

We have an investigator who is a member referral.  When we talked to him for the first time, he told us that he had a Book of Mormon, he read it all, and that he knew that it is true.  He wants to get baptized, but he didn´t want to come to church because he had a bad experience with a member at church.  After teaching him 2 or 3 times, he asked us, "I have to go to church, don´t I".  "Yeah, yeah you do," I replied.  He came to church yesterday and stayed for the whole 3 hours and is excited to get baptized the 28th of September.

In other news, Bermejo is hot...really hot.  Spring is just barely starting and I´m already dying of heat.  I don't think I´ll ever think of Utah summer as hot ever again because I´m pretty sure that the peak of summer in Utah is like the winter here.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bermejo

I received the call Wednesday at 9:30 pm that I was getting transferred to Bermejo, Tarija, Bolivia and that I had to be ready at Thursdsay 4:00 am to go to the airport. I arrived at the airport at 5:30 am, checked my bags, and departed for Cochabamba at 6:30 am. After a layover in Cochabamba, we took off again headed for Tarija we arrived in Tarija at 9 am where they dispatched us to the bus terminal to take a trufi (a van that´s something in-between a taxi and a bus) to Bermejo.  At the terminal, they told us that it would be impossible to go to Bermejo because the road to Bermejo was blocked off by some protesters and that we would have to wait until the protests stopped.  I went to eat lunch with another elder who was waiting for his companion to arrive from Santa Cruz and then returned to the terminal where we waited until 6:30 pm when we received news that the protests had ended.  After the 3 hour trufi ride, I arrived in Bermejo at 9:30 at night.  I met my companion, we planned for the next day and I prepared a tiny bit for the district meeting the following day (by the way I got called as a district leader a month and a half ago).

I´ll let you all know more about Bermejo next week, but basically it´s a smallish town on the Argentinian border that´s a lot like Yacuiba.  It´s the hottest part of the Bolivia, Santa Cruz mission and one of the top 3 hottest places in all of Bolivia (possibly the hottest, depending on who you ask).  It´s extremely dusty (as you can see in the pics) and the air usually had a thick haze of dust that almost looks like fog.  It was formerly part of the Cochabamba mission and as such, more than half of the missionaries are from the Cochabamba mission as well.  I´ll let you all know more next week, but I´ll tell you right now that it´s really hot and it´s only going to get hotter (as hot as 50 degrees celcius).

Until Next Time,
Elder

Casdorph

Monday, August 26, 2013

Frio

It got cold again here and weather was a bit tough for my companion.  Where he comes from (Cartajena, Colombia) it´s never cold, so the cold here has been pretty unbearable for him. Just when it was starting to get hot again, and he was feeling a bit better, the cold and rain came back.  The cold here isn´t all that bad, but the rain is miserable because all of the streets flood with water and become like rivers.  As we left the house to proselyte Friday, we found ourselves in the bitter cold and pouring rain. As we arrived at the only paved street in our area, we found it completely flooded with absolutely now way of crossing on foot without the cold, rushing water filling our shoes completely.  As I tried to call a taxi to offer him 2 pesos to take us to the other side of the street, I noticed my companion walking away.  I ran to him and asked him where he was going.  "I´m going to the house," he said.

After trying everything I knew how to do to convince him that we weren´t just gonna give up and go home, I found that I couldn´t do anything because he had decided that we were going back home and as I tried to reason with him he just ignored me kept walking back to the house.  I decided to give my companion some time to warm up back in the house and as he did so, I helped our landlord change the mosquito nets on the windows. Afterward, when he still didn´t want to leave the house, I decided to call the zone leaders who then called the mission president.  We later received a call from the mission president who said that he wanted to talk to Elder Jaime.  I don´t know exactly what the mission president told him, but the next day we got back to work as normal, and I´ve been spending the last few days trying to lift my companion back up from his discouragement. He´s doing better now, but it´s been tough.

In other news we have an investigator who will be getting married friday (her husband is a less-active member) and getting baptized Saturday.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jardín del Sur

Everything is going fine here.  The baptism that we were supposed to have Saturday with the Maribel and Sabina Ziñany ended up not happening because they want to be more sure that this really is the true church before getting baptized.  They almost have testimonies, but it will be a few more days before they are completely ready for baptism.  We are going to do all that we can to help them to be ready to get baptized this Saturday.  My relationship with my companion is good and the members of my ward are finally learning to pronounce "Casdorph" (which probably means that I will soon be transferred to another area).  There is honestly very little to report now.  I keep teaching and helping people every day and the days are starting to pass by faster and faster.  The winter has now passed and I will be experiencing nothing but heat and humidity until June 2014.  I´ve gotten so used to being a missionary that the thought of going back to the States and being a normal person who can sleep in, watch movies, and use facebook seems extremely foreign.  It will be interesting to see how the world has changed when I get back and especially how much I have changed.

Now it´s time to focus in the time that I have here so that I can keeping changing myself and keep changing the world (or at least Bolivia).

I´ll let you all know a bit more next week about how it´s going here, and probably send some pics, but until then...

Cuídense,
Elder Casdorph

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Comidas, misioneras, y Flia. Ziñany

Tuesday was Bolivian Independence Day an my ward decided to do a couple of activities to celebrate it.  The Relief Society (the women) had an activity where the all brought a bunch of typical Bolivian foods and then assigned 3 people to judge which was the tastiest.  I, as an American have a different taste in foods, so the one that I liked the most, didn´t even get 3rd place.  The one that I liked the most is Chorizo  Chuquisaqueño (Sausage from Chuquisaca) and is what you see in the photo.

Also in this week, a sister from my ward left on her mission.  She is now in the MTC in Sao Paulo, Brazil and her family is super happy and proud because she is the first missionary in her family.

We should be having 2 baptisms this Saturday (Sabina and Maribel Ziñany).  They came to the activity this week as well as church on Sunday.

We asked Maribel (18 yrs) how she felt about baptism yesterday, because before, she wasn´t sure if she wanted to get baptized.  She said that she definitely wanted to get baptized, but she wasn´t sure when.  I felt like I should just be bold and direct with her and said, "Good, if you don´t have any objections then, you are gonna get baptized this Saturday because we can tell that you´re ready."  She smiled, accepted and is now super-exited to get baptized Saturday.

I hope that all is going well back in the states and that I can hear from all of you soon, but I hope that all of you know that everything is going great here, the days are flying by super-fast and that I am enjoying every moment that I have with the people of Santa Cruz.

Elder Casdorph

Friday, August 9, 2013

Jardín del Sur (South Garden)

Por varias meses ye, yo he querido escribirles en español, pero por algún razón, nunca lo hice.  Andrea, por favor cuando pone eso en Google Traducir, ponga el original en español, junto con la traducción en ingles.  Espero que éste tendrá sentido cuando se lo traduce, especialmente porgue todavía no escribo muy bien, y si algo esta mal-escrito, Google Traducir no lo reconocerá, pero por eso hay spellcheck.  

Todo va bien aquí tenemos una mamá y su hija de 18 años que se van a bautizar el 17 de Agosto.  Tenemos también dos parejas que se van a casar y bautizarse.  Los miembros están apoyándonos mucho mejor ya en la obra.  Martes van a hacer una actividad en la iglesia.  Van a comer comidas típicas de todos los departamentos de Bolivia y hacer una noche de talentos porque martes es la día de independencia boliviana.  Mí compañero estamos trabajando y enseñando bien juntos, me gusta estar con un Colombiano; la gente de Centroamérica es muy alegre.

Enseñamos a en joven que casi no cree en Dios.  Le leí Alma 22:18 y le ayudamos a que pudo orar par saber si Dios realmente existe.  Nos arrodillamos, y el no quería orar pero por fin lo hizo.

"D-..Dios............ Dios por favor bendice a estés hermanos por haber e-.........no sé a quien estoy hablando....
"No sé a quien estoy hablando, no sé a quien estoy hablando, si estoy hablando a ti o solamente a mi mismo o a la pared o no sé que.....
"Quisiera saber si tu existes.....quisiera que..te des..a conocer..a mí.
(ya hablando mucho mas rápido)"No sé que estoy haciendo no sé si estoy orando o hablando no mas.  Cuando era chico, creía en ti; creía que existes, pero ya... ya no sé.  Por favor, a-amen."

El estaba preocupado de que hizo mal la oración.  Le dije yo, "No se preocupe. Es unas de las mejores oraciones que he escuchado en mi vida."

Le dimos un Libro de Mormón y le preguntamos si podría lee un poquito. Nos dijo, "No, no voy a leer un poquito.  Si lo leo, lo loe todo."

En el próximo, estaré dándoles noticias de él, pero hasta el próximo...

Élder Casdorph 

For several months now, I've wanted to write in Spanish, but for some reason, I never did. Andrea, please when you put that into Google Translate, put the original in Spanish, along with English translation. I hope this will make sense when you translate it, especially because I do not write very well, and if something is wrong-writing, Google Translate does not recognize it, but that's spellcheck.

All is well here we have a mother and her 18 year old daughter to be baptized on August 17th. We also have two couples who are getting married and baptized. Members are relying much better already in the works. Tuesday we'll do an activity in the church. They will eat traditional foods from all departments of Bolivia and make a night of talent because Tuesday is the day of Bolivian independence. Me teaching partner and I are working well together and I like to be with a Colombian, Central American person who is very cheerful.

We taught a young man who almost did not believe in God. I read Alma 22:18 to help him know you could pray even to know if God really exists. We knelt, and he did not want to pray but he finally did.

"D-.. God please ............ God bless you brothers for having e-......... do not know who I'm talking about ....
"I know who I'm talking about, do not know who I'm talking about, if I'm talking to you or just myself or wall or do not know .....
"I wonder if you exist ..... want .. you know .. you know .. to me.
(Speaking and much faster) "I know I'm doing I do not know if I'm praying or talking no more. As a kid, I believed in you, believing that you exist, but ... I do not know. Please to-love. "

He was concerned that the sentence was wrong. I said, "Do not worry.  It's one of the best sentences I've heard in my life."

We gave him a Book of Mormon and asked if he could read a little. He said, "No, I will read a little. If I read it, I love all."

In the next email, I will send more news about him, but until next ...

Elder Casdorph

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mas sillas de ruedas

In this last week, we started teaching Miguel Angel.  He is a 27 year old man in a wheelchair who works making both acoustic and electric guitars.  He has has meningitus, and tuberculosis (or at least I think that´s what he told me, but I´m not sure because the names of the diseases were in Spanish), and is now in a wheelchair and suffering from a bit of memory loss.  When we found him, he told us than every night he prays so that he can pass on from this life and wonders why God wants him to keep on living.  We taught him the plan of Salvation, and the purpose that God has for him in his life.  At the end of the lesson we asked him to pray. In his prayer, rather that asking to pass away like he usually always did, he asked for more time in his life to fix the mistakes that he has made and put his life in order.  He came to church yesterday, and gave us the news that he will be going to La Paz for 2 months for physical therapy and other medical stuff.  It's awesome that he will get the medical help that he needs, but my companion and I are pretty bummed that we won´t get to keep teaching him.  We are going to give his info to the missionaries in La Paz and they are going to keep teaching him and hopefully baptize him.

We´ve got some other great people that we are teaching, but I´ll let you know about them next week.

Until Next Time,
Elder Casdorph

Monday, July 22, 2013

Nuevo Compañero

I´ve got a new companion now, his name is Elder Jaime (hi-may) and is from Colombia.  He was in the Cochabamba, Bolivia mission, but with the mission split, the Santa Cruz mission also aquired the city of Tarija and all of the missionaries that were there.

All is going quite well here other that it rains a ton and it got cold again.  I am happy that I get to keep working in my same area, but with a different companion, and I hope that the 2 of us can really help the people here to know the gospel, and change their lives for the better as the result.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, July 15, 2013

Nuevo Presidente y Bowling

We´ve had a new president for about 2 weeks now, but I didn´t have any time last week to write about him.  His name is President Willard and is from Arizona.  He´s fairly young about 40-44 ish.  He and his wife learned to speak Spanish in their missions, but have forgotten a lot and are re-learning to speak fluently.  He has worked in church education as a seminary and institute teacher and comes with all of the awesome dorkiness associated with being a seminary teacher.  We had a zone meeting with him to get to know him a bit and ask some questions.  One elder asked him what were his favorite sports.  He said that he really liked basketball and soccer and that he also had a bit of a passion for ultimate frisbee.  When he said that, I couldn't help but raise a fist of pride in the air in the name of frisbee.  I´m pretty sure that he remembers me now as that one goofy missionary that likes frisbee way too much, but that´s alright because his last words to me as I shook his hand goodbye were, "¿frisbee algún día, no?" (frisbee someday, right?).

Another plus of the new president was that he gave us permission to go bowling as a zone (for some reason that I don´t understand, President Calderón told us that we couldn´t go bowling because it was too dangerous).  I was wondering what a Bolivian bowling center would be like, but as we entered the doors, to my surprise, I found myself in a "Cosmic Bowling" exactly the same as all of the Cosmic Bowlings in America.  The music was American, the bowling machines were in English, the bowling shoes were in American sizes, and the bathroom sign said "men".  I felt like I had somehow entered a portal back to the States.  I was able to enjoy a nice game of bowling, and even though I was bowling through my legs, behind the back, and left handed, I was able to finish in 2nd place with a grand score of 70 (Latinos don´t know how to bowl, especially because it was the first time for most of them).  To add to the American-ness, after bowling we went to Burger King (the only American fast food restaurant in the mission other than Subway).

Here are the pictures of our baptisms 2 weeks ago.  Their names are Victoria and Florencia Guzman and Eliana Machuca.


 [Note from the editor: Jack did not include any explanation for this picture.  Please enjoy a frog in a bowl...?]


Elder Casdorph

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Se Habla "Registro" en Ingles

Last week I couldn´t write because we had to go back to the house to get a couple of registro bautismales (sorry... I don´t remember how to say registro in English, but some baptismal forms)  that we forgot, and we forfeited our internet time.  Catching up on the writing that I had to do last week, I'm out of time today as well, but [Andrea] can put some of that stuff that I wrote to [her], especially about the 4th of July, in the blog.

[Excerpt from Jack's letter to me]

Concerning the Fourth of July, I tried my best to celebrate it.  I decided to be as American as I could, eating a double-cheeseburger for breakfast, singing the National Anthem in the shower, etc.  I even suggested that in our zone meeting we could sing a Hymn in the English Hymnbook (number 340) but I got rejected.  There´s a strong possibility that I will be at home for the next 4th of July because the cycle of transfers got messed up with the mission split and everyone is going home 3 weeks earlier than the original plan.

-- Elder Casdorph

Monday, June 24, 2013

Happy Birthday!

This week went pretty well.  It was super cold, as low as 9 degrees Celcius, and rained the whole week.  We were able to get the permision for the twins´ baptism and also got their mom to come to church this week.  Things are going great and we will be having 3 baptisms this Saturday.

Sorry, I´m out of time, but it send pics and stories next week.

Elder Casdorph

[ A note from the editor: It is Elder Casdorph's birthday today.  I'm certain he would love to hear from each of you, and his mission rules have recently changed to allow him to email anyone he wants to.  You can reach him at

jack.casdorph@myldsmail.net

Thanks!  -- Andrea ]

Monday, June 17, 2013

Las Gemelas

We are teaching a couple of twin 12 year old girls who are the daughters of an inactive member.  It´s been tough because although they have an impressive gospel knowedge and want to go to the church and the activities, one of them wanted to get baptized and the other, no.  We had trouble finding out why, especially because ther mom, who turned away from the church because whe didn´t want to give up drinking, wasn´t helping us either.  After trying many times to talk to her mom and getting rejected, we found her raking the grass and offered to help.  She told us "no."  After trying unsuccessfully to talk to her about her daughters or help her rake, we turned around dismayed and started to walk away.

"Elders!" she yelled.

"Yeah?"

"Do you really want to help me?"

"Yeah, of course" we replied.

"I couldn´t sleep last night, I was so worried about all the things I have to get done.  Here, take the rake and I´ll go get another one"

We helped her rake the grass and she still didn´t want to talk, but asked us to help her with some other chores.  We then moved a pile of wood in her yard and found an killed a rat that was in her shed.  After 2 hours of helping her she opened up.

"I want my daughters to get baptized," she told us.  "I want them to get baptized, but I want it to be the both of them, not just one.  Florencia wants to get baptized, but Victoria´s brother told her that if she gets baptized her dad (who lives in the US) will stop sending her money."

We were able to talk to Victoria, and she´s now going to talk to her dad, who we hope won´t have a problem with her baptism.  It was amazing, however how much raking some grass and killing a rat really helped her mom - who came to church yesterday for the first time after years of inactivity.

If you really want to help somebody and don´t know how, go to their house and rake their grass.  He´ll open up and start to help himself.

Elder Casdorph

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nuevas reglas

They changed the rules about who we as missionaries are allowed to write. Before we could only write immediate family members, but now we can write friends, girlfriends, even friends in other missions.  It´s crazy now to hear from all of them and what missions they are in or hear that they are now married.

Things are going great here and I will now officially stay in the Bolivia Santa Cruz mission and not go the Santa Cruz North Mission when the mission splits.  It will be tough to be separated from my friends who are now in the North mission, but, I´ll get to meet some new missionaries that were part of the Cochabamba mission, but will now be part of Santa Cruz.

It´s crazy to thing that pretty soon I will have 1 year in the mission, time is flying so fast.  Anyway, there´s not much to write, but all is going well here.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, June 3, 2013

Nada

Sorry to all of those who were waiting anxiosly for my mission experiences this week, but I used almost all of my time in internet writing to other people or worrying about other things.
I will tell you that we had a baptism on Saturday and we are hoping to have 2 more possibly this Saturday or the next.  I´ll send pics next week.
Elder  Casdorph

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sin Título

I was trying to come up with a semi-witty title in Spanish for this week´s letter to put in the subject bar like I usually do, but nothing comes to mind.  We honestly had a pretty boring week, but boring in a good way because we were so busy teaching people this week that there wasn´t any time for any crazy, interesting experiences.

We were supposed to have 2 baptisms Saturday, but they both got postponed for the next Saturday.  1 of them (Zenón a 17 kid) was postponed because the investigator needed to learn a couple more things before getting baptised.  The other (Carlos 21 yrs) because his dad, who had been somewhat opposing our efforts as well as his son´s decision to join the church,  decided a day before the baptism that he actually wanted to support his son and go to his baptism, but he wouldn´t be able to go to the baptism, so we postponed it to allow his dad to come and support him.  We are now doing everything we can to make sure that Zenón and Carlos can get baptised this Saturday along with Pablo, another 16 year old kid.

Things are a bit interesing as we are waiting for the mission to split at the end of June and they still haven´t decided whether the zone where I am will be part of the Northern or Southern mission.

All is going well with training Elder Ramos.  He is an excellent missionary, and I am sure that he will be training too very soon.

Anyway, that´s basically what´s going on with me here, in Santa Cruz, and I would like to hear a bit more about what is going on with all of you back in the States.

Cuidense, [take care of yourself]
Elder Casdorph

Monday, May 20, 2013

Micro Privado

We had a bit of a crazy week this week.  The highlight was a couple of baptisms on Saturday.  Saturday morning we found out that the baptismal clothing that we thought that ward had had somehow been lost, so we called a bunch of other missionaries to find someone with baptismal clothing.  We were able to find the needed clothing, but the other Elders couldn´t give it to us until 7:00, the same time that we had planned to start the baptism.  We had to go the houses of a couple investigators from at about 6:15 and later, go to the house of the two girls that were getting baptized at 6:30 to go to the church prepare a couple of things for the baptism at 7.  We were running late and didn´t go to the 1st house until 6:37.  We arrived at the 2nd house at 6:51, but they weren´t ready to leave until 7:09.  We then went to wait for the bus that would take us to the church, but after 7, there are very few bus drivers that are still working.  We waited unit about 7:20, and a few, buses passed by, but they weren´t working anymore, just going back home to rest.  We thought about taking a taxi, but we hat 10 adults and a couple of kids with us and there was no way that we could all fit in 1 taxi.  I said a small prayer that we would be able to find away to get to the baptism.  About 30 seconds later, another bus came.  This bus driver was headed home as well, but since we were so many people, he was willing to not only take us, but also to take us directly to the church rather than take the normal bus route because nobody else was in the bus.

We arrived at the baptism 1/2 hr late, worried that there would be a bunch of people waiting outside in the cold (it´s fairly cold here right now) because we never came to open the doors.  To our surprise, we found the church open , the invited guests waiting patiently and the needed baptismal clothing folded on a table.  The baptism went off without a hitch, and one of the newly baptized girls gave one of the most powerful testimonies that I have ever heard.

We should be having a couple more baptisms this week, and hope to have a little bit less stress before-hand, but the same basic results.

Elder Casdorph


Monday, May 13, 2013

Nigua


The higlight of my week, was proabably having nigua (a little worm that lives in the sand and enters people´s feet) in my foot. Tuesday, I discovered a painful little mark in my foot, that looked kindof like a black zit.  Thinking that it my be a spider bite, or something, I asked a member what he thought it was.

He responded that it was nigua, which is apparently a little worm that likes to enter people´s feet and then gradually grow bigger until somebody plucks it out or after a week or so, it leaves on its own.  I went to the doctor who confirmed that it was nigua, and then started picking away at my foot with a needle trying to find the little, black worm beneath the surface. After finding it, he plucked the worm,and a small chunk of flesh out with tweezers.  I was only able to see the worm for a small moment before it jumped from the tweezers and we weren´t able to find it more.  Now after having dengue and nigua, I hope that the Bolivian bugs can leave me alone for a while, but I also like the crazy experiences that Bolivia never fails to give me.

Elder Casdorph

[Note from the editor: don't Google search for a picture.  You really don't want to see it.]

Monday, May 6, 2013

Silla de Ruedas


We found an old guy in a wheelchair that wanted to listen to us.  We helped him clean and fix a few things in his house and taught him a few lessons.  He said that he wanted to go to church and we told him that we´d bring someone with a car Sunday morning to help him go to church.  Yesterday we arrived with the car (and its owner),  helped him change his clothes and get ready for church and then took him to church.  He´s a sweet, lonely old guy who is very grateful for our help and wants to get baptized May 25.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, April 29, 2013

Taxi Llena 2 y Jardín del Sur

We had transfers this week, I got sent to the area Jardín Del Sur, Cañoto in Santa Cruz.  My new companion is Elder Ramos from Sucre, Bolivia.  He has only 6 weeks in the mission and I will be finishing the other 6 weeks of his training.  He´s a very good missionary, but lacks a bit more training.  I had the pleasure of arriving in an area with a baptism on Saturday.  Arriving to the baptism, I broke my personal record of the most people crammed in a Toyota Corolla Taxi.  We had 1 taxi driver, 8 adults, 4 children and a baby all crammed into the taxi and the hatchback.  It also appears that when the mission splits in June, that I will most likely be part of Santa Cruz South because I am currently in the Southern part of the mission.

Hasta el próximo,
Elder Casdorph



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

La comida


I didn't have time to write, but here's what I wrote to mom about the food here:

The food is a lot of chicken, a lot of rice, and very little flavor.  While there are a few dishes that I like a lot, such as sopa de maní (peanut soup), the truth is that I don´t like the food very much because it is pretty bland and frequently makes me sick.  We eat lunch every day with the same family and every once in a while, we eat lunch or dinner with another family, but we usually don´t eat dinner (lunch is the big meal of the day here). I have grown to like salsa more and am eating with an increasing level of spiciness in my food.  They don´t eat much salsa here, but it is pretty much the only condiment that is easy to find and I like to eat.

There is pizza here, but it is of a very low quality and comes with little or no sauce.  In Santa Cruz, there is a pizzeria owned and run by an American that´s pretty good.  It´s about the quality of 5 Buck Pizza, but it's quite expensive and the missionaries only eat there for special occasions.

Now that I am out of santa Cruz, it is also impossible to find things such as barbeque sauce and peanut butter, but there is an awesome Agentinian hostess-like pastry called game that only costs $0.28.

My favorite Bolivian food is actually a juice-box like juice that comes in a 150 mL sack.  It´s called pilfrut and is like a watered-down Gogurt.  It´s delicious, costs only $0.07 and is especially awesome on a hot, sunny day (pretty much every day here).

I have a personal goal to eat every single thing that someone puts in front of me (that isn't against the mission rules or the Word of Wisdom) throughoutt the whole 2 years of my mission.  Other than the 5 times that I have thrown up due do dengue or stomach infections, I have left every single plate clean of food and even cleaned my companion´s plate a couple of times.  I am actually quite proud of that feat, because as you well know, I was a very picky eater before.  I have also discovered (which probably won´t surprise you) that some of the things that I would never eat before, such as bananas actually taste pretty good.  Tomatoes, however are still nasty, but I eat them anyway now.

Elder Casdorph

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

y fue guiado por el Espíritu sin saber antemano que iba de hacer

We had 2 baptisms this week, but none of the 3 USB ports in this computer work, so the pictures will have to wait until next week.  We baptized Amberly Belen Reynaga (11 yrs) and Maria Alejandra Flores (10 yrs).  Both of them are children of less-active members who we helped to return to the church.


The last week or two honestly haven´t been that great.  We weren´t teaching very well, nobody was opening their doors to listen to us, and we just weren´t having much success.  I was trying to incorporate new ideas, trying some other things to give our companionship a bit more life (One of these things should have a couple photos and stories next week).  Wednesday morning, the thought came to my mind that I should pray to have less conflict and problems between my companion and I.

"No, I don´t need to do that, there´s not conflict between us, we´re buddies."  I thought.


Later, came the impression, "It´s what you need.  Just trust me."


I prayed. Just after praying, I felt a warm feeling come over me and I knew that I had found what our companionship needed: more unity, so that  we could be guided by the spirit.


The next day we found a man who said that he had been praying, crying and asking God for help when he heard a knock at the door (us).  Yesterday we found a young father who was worried for his family and wondering what he could do to help when we appeared in his window.


The church is true and the power of prayer is real. I invite you all to pray, you may not think that it is what you need, but...it is.


1 Nephi 32: 8-9

8 And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the devil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
 9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.


Elder Casdorph 











Monday, April 8, 2013

Bloqueos y Conferenci​as

We had an interesting week this week because of some protests headed by university students who want a bigger campus.  It´s apparently quite common here that if a group of people wants something from the government, they block the freeway to Santa Cruz until they get what they want.  Sometimes, if that doesn´t work, they block every single road in the whole town.  This week the students from the government-run university in Yacuiba decided to do this to solicit more funding from the government to expand their university.  With the help of a few local taxi companies, they were able to block basically every road in Yacuiba, including the entrances to the bus terminal, the airport, and crucial trade routes to Argentina and Santa Cruz.  Motorcycle, bicicle and pedestrian trafic continued, but due to the taxis parked in the middle of the intersections, the car traffic couldn´t do anything.  It was this way Tuesday, Wednesday, and half of Thursday until they were able to come to an agreement with the government.  While this probably sounds like an unstable, dangerous situation, it´s apparently fairly common here and those that could continue working by walking or going in motorcycle or bike continued working normally while the others enjoyed a small vacation from work. We kept on walking as normal.

To those who could not see the 183rd General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints, it was awesome and I invite you to watch it at www.lds.org
Elder Casdorph

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monedero de Chicos

The highlight of this week would have to be a very unique service opportunity that I had this week.  About 5 months ago, I decided to make a monedero (coin purse) for my money, because the monetary system here is primarily coin based and the trifold, George Costanza, wallet didn´t work very well for the coin system here.  I took note of the basic design of the coin purses that many have here, and made my own with the plastic cover of a notebook and some super glue to make it look pretty (I would send some photos, but none of the USB parts in this computer work).  Later (when I was sick with dengue, we had Carnival, my companion had a throat infection, and my companion was sick with dengue) I had tons of free time, so I came up with a new design and made a coin purse wallet thing for the elders in my district out of cereal boxes and a badly printed Libro de Mormón that we had in the house.

My companion pulled his out the other day, and it called the attention of a couple nearby kids in the street who asked me if I could teach them to make one.  I told them to bring me a cereal box and some scissors, and after running to their house they quickly returned with cereal boxes and scissors.  I made a couple coin purse wallet things and then we asked if we could talk to their parents.  Their parents were busy working, but they seemed quite impressed that a couple of missionaries were willing to teach a couple of kids in the street, and we invited them to the church and English class.

- Elder Casdorph

Monday, March 25, 2013

Borrachito Sanito


[Translation: Drunk sanito... (my guess is 'crazy drunk,' but Google Translate refuses to back me up. -- Andrea]

This week we got to go to Santa Cruz in a big, comfy tour bus to listen to Elder Waddel, who is a member of the quorum of the seventy and the 1st counselor in the South America Northwest Area.  During the 8 hour trip, we enjoyed the rare chance to sleep, and the much rarer chance to watch the pirated DVD´s that they show on the buses.  The next day we went to the conference with Elder Waddel, which was fantastic.  The following day, we took another 8 hr bus ride back to Yacuiba, where we enjoyed more sleep, movies, and a chance to see a whole bunch of tiny Bolivian towns and the beautiful eastern Bolivian countryside.

A couple of months ago, I sent home a story of being chased by a drunk guy.  Yesterday, we were looking for a different person, and having forgotten where the drunk guy lived, we knocked on his door.  We talked a bit, and he invited us to enter and teach him a bit.  As we started to talk to him in his house, I started thinking, "I think I know this guy" then I bit later, I realized, "This is the crazy drunk guy that chased us for like 10 blocks!"  Shortly after this realization, he started to say, "I´m sorry for my conduct the other day.  I was really drunk and I wasn´t with all of my 5 senses.  I felt really bad for how I treated you and your other companion, and I´m actually really surprised that you guys came back."

I honestly did not have the slightest intention of ever returning to the house of that crazy drunk guy, but after accidentally (and probably not coincidentally) knocking his door and then teaching him a good lesson, I´m glad that I did return.  It shows that people really can change and also the crazy, awful things that normally good people choose to do while under the influence of alcohol.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, March 18, 2013

Donatión de Sangre


Not much has happened here in Yacuiba, other than that it is getting cold now.  We only had 1 investigator in Sacrament meeting, her name is Amberly (a surprisingly gringo name) and she is 11 years old.  She is the daughter of a less active and will be getting baptized on the 30th.

They also recently announced the Papa Gaucho (Argentinian Pope) which got all of the Catholics here, especially the Argentinians (of which there are many as we are on the border with Argentina) all excited.

The highlight of the week was that as we were eating lunch, the family that we were with was watching the news, and we saw that in a nearby park, they were asking for blood donations.  We decided to go and donate, and by "we", I mean me, because my companion has a severe fear of needles.  We thought it would be a good opportunity to meet some new people to teach, give the church and missionaries a good name, and most importantly save some lives.  As they were testing my blood, I noticed that they were doing the same test many times and that they were somewhat confused.  I overheard them saying stuff like "the test says that he´s type negative, so I did it again".  Overhearing this, I replied, "yeah, my blood is O negative".  Apparently nobody in this part of the world has negative blood, especially O negative.  They said that there are only like 7 other people in the whole department of Tarija (departments are kind of like States) with the same blood type.  I was then treated as part king and part scientific specimen as they took my blood.  We were able to meet some great new people and now probably all of the nurses and doctors will remember the skinny Mormon gringo with O negative blood the next time that a missionary knocks on their door and be a bit more likely to open the door.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, March 11, 2013

Built upon the Rock


The highlight of the week for most of the Yacibueños and for us as well was a city wide blackout this Saturday in the night/ afternoon.  We were visiting a mechanic who accepted us in his home, but then said that he had to finish something important with an engine before conversing with us and asked us to wait a few minutes.  We waited 15 minutes for him to finish and then just as he sat down to talk with us all of the lights went out.  We then taught an entire lesson (and a pretty good one too) by the light of his little LED flashlight in his cell phone.  As we left his house we found ourselves in the rain in a muddy, dirt road.  We knew that the road also had a bunch of rocks of different sizes from when we arrived at the house in the light, but now we couldn´t see a thing.  Just about the only thing that we could see was the main road far in the distance that we could see because of the headlights of the passing cars.  Slipping in mud and tripping over rocks we managed to arrive at the road without falling, but with many close calls.

I wanted to use this story to teach an awesome object lesson like the General Authorities always do in General Conference.  The awesome object lesson will probably have to wait for a few years, so I can have a better perspective of the experience and maybe a few gray hairs to give me some more wisdom.  The experience did remind me, however, of a part in Preach My Gospel that says that we must walk by faith and not by sight.  I firmly believe that although we may stumble and slip in rocks and mud, that if we are built upon the Rock that is Christ our Lord, we cannot fall (Heleman 5:12)

Elder Casdorph

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dengue Parte 2: La Venganza Del Dengue


In this last month with my contraction of Dengue, Carnival, and my companion´s throat infection, we had just about as much time stuck in the house as we had working.  My companion decided to add to that by joining the not-so-exclusive list of missionaries who have had Dengue.  The only day that I got to leave and teach was when we decided to do a companion exchange with the zone leaders after meeting them in the doctors office and discovering that one of them was also sick with Dengue.  We decided to put the 2 sick elders together so that I and the other healthy one could go out and work.

In this day of work we decided to go out and look for a referral that one of our investigators gave us.  Like many referrals, this one did not include an address or a phone number but rather, "Go to where bus number 2 turns onto this street, ask the lady in the store on the corner where they live and she should tell you."  Despite the unlikelihood of actually being able to find the house, we decided to look.  We took the bus to the described location and got off.  We looked around for a store in the corner and there were no stores to be found.  We decided to ask a lady selling chicken nearby if she happened to know where they lived.  She knew nothing, but a nearby 8 yr old kid said that he knew where it was.  I didn´t trust the kid much, but he was pretty much our only hope for finding the house, so I pulled a couple of candies out of my pocket and announced (still talking to the chicken lady, but in a voice loud enough that the kid could easily hear) that I had a couple of candies that I was willing to give to anyone who could take us to the house.  The little kid, gladly offered to help us and then took us right to the house.  After confirming that our referral actual lived there, we gave the kid the promised candy and he went on his merry way with his mouth full of candy and his hand full of empty wrappers.

I am confident that the Lord had a hand in guiding us to this sweet-toothed, tour guide kid.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Church is True



Not much to write this week.  We had a decent week. 8/10 investigators from last week came to church again.  The mission has told us to look for another house in our area because they are gonna split our area in half and put 4 missionaries in our branch.  Other than that, it was a pretty boring week.

I want to tell all of those who read this blog that the church is true.  I know that that is a bold statement that some of you might not agree with, but I can assure all of you that it is true and that any person who asks God with faith to know if the Church is true will receive an answer from God and be able to say with the same assurance that the church is true.

Elder Casdorph

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Full Taxi


After Carnival, and our 3 1/2 days stuck in the house, my companion decided to contract a throat infection for the 3rd time in his mission and add another day and a half in the house to our week.  Despite only being able to work a couple of days we had an insanely successful week.  We didn´t teach many lessons or find many new people, but we had 10 investigators who came to church.  I think that before yesterday, the most people that I have ever had come to church was 4 and they were all part of the same family.

The most important of all of these investigators was the familia Yelma (where the Dad has now read up to Alma 38, more than half of the Book of Mormon).  We went to their house to pick them up to go to church in a taxi because they live really far away.  We then went in the taxi (an old Toyota Corolla) to the church with the taxi driver, 3 adult investigators, a 9 yr old, a 7 yr old, a 3 month old, and 2 missionaries.  I don´t think there are many things in the world that feel much better that going to church in a taxi so full of investigators that you have to have your head half out the window to fit in the taxi.

One of the members owns a micro (schoolbus-sized public transport bus)  that he uses to help people go to and from church and with the added surplus of our 10 investigators and 2 less-active families that we helped to go to church this week, it was just as full as the taxi.  It was an awesome feeling to have so many people in church and I hope that next week we will be strapping people to the roof of the taxi to go to church.

Elder Casdorph

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dengue


This week was turned out to not be the investigator finding jamboree that I had planned.  Monday afternoon, I had some pretty bad back pain.  I ignored it of course and left at 6:00 just like every p-day to go out and proselyte. The back pain was soon joined by a strong migraine as well as pain and general fatigue in every part of my body.  It turned out to be Dengue, a common mosquito-transmitted disease here.  It´s usually described as feeling like all of the bones in your body are broken.  I can now testify that that description is a huge overexaggeration.  While it doesn´t feel like every bone has been broken, it does feel like someone has taken the liberty of punching every single bone and joint while you were sleeping.  It´s also accompanied with with high fever, lack of appetite, and a lack of desire to do anything.  For me it also meant a week-long migraine that severely hindered my ability to think and consequently, my ability to speak Spanish.  I would like to assure any worriers out there that I feel better now, and I only have the last symptom of general itchiness.  I´m told that this means that the Dengue is basically over.

Due to this, I had to rest all day Tuesday and Wednesday and the following days were part rest and part work.  I am now feeling better, however, and in this next week we will be doing the planned investigator-finding jamboree.

Despite my sickness, it still turned out to be a great week as the family that we were teaching where the dad has now read all of 1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, and Jacob, finally came to church this Sunday.  They should be getting baptized the 23 of February.

Until Next Time,
Elder Casdorph

p.s.  I probably won´t send anything next week because we are going to be closed up in the house for the 3 days of Carnival, the holiday here that is basically 3 days of drinking, all sorts of sin and craziness in the streets.  During these days, the missionaries go to church, but other than that, we don´t leave the house, not even to write some emails home.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Man in the Mirror

Sadly, Omar and Maria still haven´t gotten married or baptized.  It´s very likely that they will get their papers this week, but if not you probably won´t be hearing any more about them because we´ve done what we can, now it´s up to them to do their part, and if they don´t we´re not gonna lose any more time teaching a family that can´t progress any more and get baptized.

We´ve had a fairly down week or 2 as one of our families can´t get married without the papers, and our other family (with the dad who has now completed 2 Nephi, a feat which many members haven´t done) still hasn´t come to church because they want to go with every single member of the family together, but there´s always a kid that is working or out of town.  Other than these 2 families, we have hardly anybody, so we will be spending the next few weeks finding some new people and building them up.

In other news, I did something this week that I never thought I would do in my mission.  I used Michael Jackson lyrics in a lesson.  A less-active member was saying that he stopped going to church because he didn´t feel like the members were doing enough to help grow and strengthen the church.  I replied, "It´s as Michael Jackson says, ´if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change´" saying it first in English and then later translating it.  I also explained that he had to start with the "man in the mirror".  While it may have been a little unorthadox, it was what I felt that I needed to say and it worked out pretty well.  I invite all of you to "take a look at yourself and make the change" as well.


Until Next Time,
Elder Casdorph

Monday, January 21, 2013

The 1st Book of Nephi


We have a family who are the parents and siblings of a 23 year old who got baptized in Santa Cruz and then during the week that he was here in Yacuiba introduced us to his family and did what he could to help teach them and share his testimony with them.  We had been talking especially with his dad, Cruz, but he wasn´t keeping his commitments, especially with the Libro de Mormón.  We were thinking about dropping him, but we decided to give him 1 more chance to prove his desire to come unto Christ.  We asked him if he had been reading and I was expecting the usual answer of, "I didn´t have any time," or "I forgot."
 
He said quite nonchalantly, "Yeah, I read the 1st book of Nephi."

"Do you mean the 1st chapter or the first page?"

"No, I´m pretty sure it was the first book, it was like 60-ish pages."

*Cough of suprise* "Yeah, hermano, that would be the first book....."

People here hardly know how to read, we leave them 2 verses to read and they can´t do it. He only has about a 4th grade education and doesn´t read that well either, but he read and Understood more than 60 pages of scripture!...in 3 days!

In other news, la familia Huanca, the family that had to get married, still doesn´t have their papers in order.  We´ll keep visiting them every once in a while, but now, they know everything and have testimonies, so the rest is in their hands to get their papers and get married.

 Anyway things are going fairly well here except for a whole ton of rain, and...

Until Next Time
Elder Casdorph

p.s. I discovered that at www.store.lds.org you can buy church materials online and with free shipping, so if anyone wanted to buy, I don´t know... some pictures of the Cochabamba temple, some Santa Biblias, or some himnarios, and then send them to a missionary with free shipping, it would be theoretically possible.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Omar y Maria


Omar and Maria are super ready for baptism.  They now have a knowledge, understanding, and testimony of everything and are faithfully living all of the commandments except for one.  They need
to get married to stop breaking the Law of Chastity, and really want to get married, but as is rather common here, the necessary legal papers for their marriage are messed up.  The birth certificate of
the hermano has his dad´s name written down wrong.  He went to the center of legal papers and stuff (I believe it´s called a Civil Registry, but in Spanish it´s Registro Civil) in Tarija about an hour
and a half away Sunday night.  I will see how that worked out in our appointment tonight, but as it stands now, I may or may not have a baptism of a family of 4 this Saturday.  They came to church this Sunday, and if we get all of the papers in order, the will be getting married and baptized this Saturday with a branch party afterwards to congratulate them.



While tracting we came across this house with a monkey in the yard, it wanted to come greet us, but it was tied to a tree.  I decided to toss it a life-savor like candy that I had in my pocket.  The monkey walked over to the candy, picked it up, sniffed it, and then went into his little treehouse where he ate it.  If you zoom in on the picture, you can see a green blur that is the candy.

Sadly, it looks like I´m not gonna be able to send the other pics I have, because this computer doesn´t have Chrome, and Firefox isn´t working, so I´m stuck with internet explorer which just keeps telling me that I need to install Chrome to do anything, but it´s not my computer, so I can´t.

[Descriptions Jack sent to me before realizing he wouldn't be able to send the pictures:]

Another house had this monstrous cactus tree, I took a pic.

I killed a rather large fly that was in our house.  It was super-green and shiny, so I took a pic.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Parte 2 (plus Uñero and Omar y Maria)

Falta de agua 


We did find some keys to the font but had the new problem that as we were filling up the font, it filled up a bit, but then the water stopped flowing. We soon discovered that we had somehow used up all of the water that the chapel had to offer, and it still wasn´t enough. Not knowing what to do, we searched for sources of water outside. We found a few spiggots, but they were all dry. We later found what is basically a giant concrete sprinkler box that was - for some reason - full of relatively clean water. We decided to take a few garbage cans, scoop up the water, and then pass it through the window to dump into the font. It was a bunch of work, but we managed to eventually fill up the font and have a beautiful baptismal service the following day.



Uñero

For the past month or two, I´ve had an uñero (in-grown toenail). For the first month of having it, I just ignored it and hoped it would go away.  It got pretty ugly after playing soccer like a month ago, so I took the pic that you see and decided to go to a doctor.  He said it was infected, and he didn´t want to cut the nail out for fear of more infection. H e gave me some antibiotics to clear out the infection, and it started looking better, but every time that I returned to the doctor, he was unwilling to do anything for fear of infection.  2 weeks ago, I decided to call the mission president´s wife.  She told me to go to a different doctor that would actually do something.  Yesterday, I had an appointment with him to get the in-grown part of my nail cut out.  To my surprise, after that operation, I was not only missing a small chunk of nail, but he had decided to rip the whole thing out.  He insists it´s better this way so that the nail doesn´t just enter into the flesh again, and while I have my doubts, I pretty much believe him.  I had to walk in flipflops for the past week, but now it´s pretty much healed, and I can wear shoes again.  It will be a few more weeks, however, before I can play fútbol again.

Also to those of you who are wondering why I haven´t written home about this until now, it´s simply because I didn´t want anyone worrying about the poor missionary walking all over Bolivia with only 9/10 toenails.  Now, however, there is no need to worry, it it healed-ish and no longer infected.  It is as the nurse-lady said, "¡Gracias a Dios que no se infectó cuando Usted estaba caminando tanto!"  Yes, nurse-lady, Gracias a Dios indeed.


Omar y Maria

We have an awesome family of investigators who have come to church twice now.  The parents (Omar and Maria) have to get married before they can get baptized (an all-too-common problem here), but I have all confidence that they will be getting both married and baptized in the coming weeks.  I will be sure to talk about them more in the coming weeks, but now it sufficeth me to say (sorry the only English that I ever see now is from the scriptures, so I can´t think of a phrase better than ´sufficeth me to say´) that they are super humble even unto the humility of children and they are doing everything they can to accept the gospel of Christ in their lives.

Stay tuned to see what happens next with Omar y Maria and my adventures in Yacuiba, Bolivia.

Elder Casdorph