"Dear Elder Crandall: you are hereby called to serve as a missionary
for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
You are assigned to labor in the Colombia Barranquilla Mission.
It is anticipated that you will serve a period of 24 months...
You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish Language."

FAVORITE SCRIPTURE

FAVORITE SCRIPTURE:
"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God,
that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb,
and upon the covenant people of the Lord,
who were scattered upon all the face of the earth;
and they were armed with righteousness
and with the power of God in great glory."
(1 Nephi 14:14)

Monday, December 29, 2014

I'M DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS

DECEMBER 29, 2014

TURBACO
Turbaco Ward, Los Alpes Stake
Companion:  Elder Montoya

Hey everyone!

This Christmas was not white here, nor was it in Mesa, Arizona, but maybe it was for some of you!  It actually has cooled off here a little, not a lot, but a little.  In the night time there is a nice breeze and it's not so hot.  I still sweat, but in the night it is a little cooler.  I think it's because Turbaco is a little higher than Cartagena and there are a lot of trees here and everything.  Well everything is going great here!  Everything is good!  This letter might be a little bit longer than usual because I'll explain what we did on Christmas and everything.

So where do I begin!  This was a full week!  Lesson-wise we didn't have too much because it was a little hard with Christmas and all of the parties and stuff, but we did have a couple great ones.

On the 23rd we had our ward Christmas party.  I played the guitar and Elder Paredes played the piano with the choir.  Some people sang songs and stuff.  I'll include some pics.  

 Ward Christmas Party 
 Ward Christmas Party - Elder Paredes and I played with the choir
 Ward Christmas Party - Elder Paredes and I played with the choir
It was way fun! Also every year this ward makes a video, like a video consisting of pictures throughout the year, both funny and serious and spiritual and everything.  It's really well done and super funny!  It's pretty much the anticipated thing every year at this party! Then after the video we ate some food and went home.  It was definitely a fun day.

So the people here celebrate Christmas more on the 24th than the 25th.  On the 24th they have a big Christmas dinner and invite the whole family over.  So on the 24th a sister invited us missionaries over to her house for dinner and we ate there with them.  I'll also include some pics of that!  
Dec. 24th celebration at Family Cabarcas
Dec. 24th celebration at Family Cabarcas


Then on the 25th the people here don't really do too much of the same things the same way we do in the states.  They do a lot of the Christmas celebrating on the 24th and I'd say that Americans do more on the 25th!  Only the really young kids get presents and things like that here. 

So for us, we went and helped a sister paint her house on Christmas morning which was fun.
Christmas morning painting house
Christmas morning painting house
Christmas morning painting house
Then we went to a member's house for lunch and they gave us some way good food.  
Dec. 25th Christmas Lunch at Family Ludian Cohen
Dec. 25th Christmas Lunch
Dec. 25th Christmas Lunch at Family Ludian Cohen
Dec. 25th Christmas Lunch
Then later we pretty much visited members and they gave us a ton of food.  Later that night we got permission to watch the movie "Madagascar 3".  
I also ate a ton of candy.

Then, on the 26th I Skyped my family!  That was enjoyable and it was nice to be able to see and talk to them!  
Skyping my family with my moustache
Skyping with family
Way awesome!  It's crazy to think that this time next year I'll be going home! 

Chester, the dog, that always follows the missionaries
Well things are really going pretty great here.  I'm not quite sure what we are going to do for the New Year.  We might be locked in the house for a couple days but I'm not too sure! I thought this letter was going to be longer with explaining everything.  Well I love and miss you all!  I hope you had a great Christmas and will have a great New Year!  Be safe and take care!

Elder Crandall

Monday, December 22, 2014

CHRISTMAS BANANAS

DECEMBER 22, 2014

TURBACO
Turbaco Ward, Los Alpes Stake
Companion:  Elder Montoya

Hey everyone!

What a busy week!  So we had transfers on Tuesday and President sent me to train again. My new companion is from Argentina, his name  is Elder Montoya (Montosha with his accent).  He is 24 years old.  He is a way good guy with a ton of energy and is a lot more hyper active than my personality but I guess that's fine!

With my new companion, Elder Montoya
So early morning Tuesday I had to leave to go to Barranquilla to be trained how to train. Just some meetings and stuff!  But there I got to see Elder Frost, from Mesa!  
With Elder Frost from Mesa
How cool was that!  Anyway, we, the other trainers from Cartagena and I, get to the bus station and leave super late so we get to Barranquilla more than halfway through all the meetings.  Then we finish the meetings and everything and we (some other missionaries training in Cartagena) get in a van to return to Cartagena.  My companion and I need to get to the bus station in Cartagena because we are in Turbaco, a town just outside of Cartagena, and need to take another bus to get there but the van driver is scared of the police and dumps us on the side of the road next to the station. So we find our way into the station only to learn that there are no longer buses leaving to Turbaco. We get on a bus going to another city a little farther and talk to the bus driver to let us off when we pass through Turbaco.  Everything was going good until we get to Turbaco and our stop. The bus stops to let us off and then we unload our bags and then I gave the guy 10.000 pesos (like 5$) and waited for the change (because the price was only 5.000 pesos) and asked the guy to sign this paper so that we could recieve reimbursment from the mission for the bus and everything, but the guy gets super nervous.  He won't sign the paper and runs back onto the bus and they take off without giving me my change and without signing the reimbursement slip. Robbed! To make things worse I cut my finger super bad on my companion's suitcase and it was bleeding pretty bad!  What a day that was!

My new name tag arrived
The next day we also recieved bad news on our way to our mission Christmas party. Olypmia, the mom of the big family we are teaching, passed away early in the morning that day.  It was definitely a devastating shock to me and even more so to her family.  We passed by the following day and the whole environment just felt heavy with sorrow. We missionaries and sister Yadelsy, the only member of the church of the family, were able to find a lot more peace than the other people that were there and that came to visit. How grateful I am for the Plan of Salvation that God has prepared for us and for the knowledge that this life is not the end.  I also feel as though President Searle was really inspired in sending Elder Montoya here because only 3 months ago Elder Montoya's father passed away from cancer.  He was able to share that very intimate experience with the family and is able to be an example to them in this time of trial.  He definitely helped comfort them in a way I was not able to.

On a more happy note, we had our mission Christmas party this week!   We watched "Ephriams Rescue" and sang songs and ate food.   It was all way good! 

Mission Christmas Party

Mission Christmas Party
Each zone had to prepare a little presentation and so our zone planned to sing a song and I got to play the accompaning guitar which was pretty fun.  I also got to see some friends and my old companion, Elder Arevalo from Ciudadela who just got transfered out to Cartagena this last week.  
With my old companion Elder Arevalo
I regret not taking more pictures, but I'll include the ones that I do have!  President and Sister Searle gave each missionary an ornament with the Temple on it.  So cool!  

Christmas Ornament President & Sister Searle gave each missionary
Also all of my packages arrived that day!  I have so much candy!!  And I'm so happy about that!  I am going to go into a suger coma!  I love it!   
Our fridge packed with my box of candy and treats
I'm loving Rachel's package with the presents she prepared for each day, such a cool idea!  
Christmas socks from Rachel that I wore to church
Things are going great!  I think Christmas day we are going to spend time with the other missionaries and have a zone activity/party.  I'm also looking forward to calling home on Friday!  What a great and busy week this will be!

Well all is going good with me.  A little bit of a challenging week but I know God is giving me some tests to grow stronger. Thanks for all of you love and support, especially during this season!  Well I love and miss you all!  I hope you all have a great Christmas!

Elder Crandall

Monday, December 15, 2014

THE PLAN OF SALVATION

DECEMBER 15, 2014

TURBACO
Turbaco Ward, Los Alpes Stake
Companion:  Elder Margarisca

Hey everyone!

We had a pretty good week filled with ups and downs.  We had a big zone conference this week with all of Cartagena which was very neat and uplifting.  We were there all day too and they gave us lunch.  Also, after everything Sister Searle gave our district an ice cream party because everyone in our district finished their English Book 1.  In our mission there is a program where the Latin missionaries learn English through these books and by taking little tests.  I think there are 3 books total.  It's a neat program and fun to help people learn English!

Also just so you know, the sister found my USB stick I lost last week!  It had fallen out of my pocket and she found it and gave it back to me. God is merciful toward me!

Mom, to answer your Christmas questions, I'm not sure, if Colombia has an equivalent to the Salvation Army bell ringers.  I haven't seen any!  Christmas does have significance here, but I think in the USA's culture it's a lot bigger deal. 

We don't have an oven so I haven't learned anything that way on my own. But I have improvised and made some pastas. Some ward members have taught me some things. I can make a Colombian dinner when I get back, haha.  There's this thing called patacon that I learned how to make.   I'm not sure how much you guys will like it, but we will definitely try it, haha!!

Yesterday we had the ward conference here in Turbaco and President and Sister Searle came out here for it.  They also gave talks that were very good about the death of a loved one and how the Plan of Salvation gives us peace and comfort amidst our trials and afflictions.  I think this talk really had an impact on a recent convert in our area named Yadelsy.  She is the only member of that big family that we are teaching.  I think I said last week, that the mother of this big family was in the hospital and last Monday we didn't know what happened but this week we passed by and found out.  So the mother's name is Olympia, and last Saturday she had a stroke.  They rushed her to the hospital and she was slowly recovering, but she is very old and delicate in her health.  I guess there was a lot of swelling in her brain so they tried to drain some blood and her health took a bad turn and they now think that she will pass away sometime this week but they arent sure yet. How grateful I am for the Plan of Salvation to know that this life isn't the end of our existance. That we can find comfort that our loved ones are taken care of, that God has a plan for us with the goal being that we return to be with him.

Well I'm doing good here!  With this health problem, we haven't been able to find and teach this family much because they're usually in Cartagena at the hospital, so we have had to look for some new people to teach.  We tried contacting some people in the rich area because we've never really been over there before and the houses look really cool haha. A lot of people have some ranches out here!  We found some pretty solid people, hopefully, and I will let you know next week how things go!  Also this week on Friday we have a Christmas activity planned by President and Sister Searle that should be fun!

While entering a bus today to go to Cartagena my leg got caught on the leg of a chair and it totally ripped my pants!!  I can mend it myself I think!  If not, its not the biggest deal!  I can get along without it!  

Just a flesh wound!

The owner of our apartment has two birds and the other day one came up to visit us. They always say ´hola´!  
Spanish speaking bird
Transfers are this week.  My companion is worried he might get transfered.  Christmas is coming up so fast though!  I'm looking forward to calling home on the 26th.  Is that date still ok?  My companion is calling home this week.  I think while my companion talks I'll just read or hangout with the other missionaries (because the 4 of us are going to be there) or play the keyboard since they are going to call from the church.  They are using a member's computer from the church which I think is a good idea because the internet is more secure and the sound quality will be better and less noise.  I'll probably do the same thing! 

Well I love and miss you all!  Hope you have a great week!!

Elder Crandall

Monday, December 8, 2014

BIRTHDAY 20

DECEMBER 8, 2014

TURBACO
Turbaco Ward, Los Alpes Stake
Companion:  Elder Margarisca

Hey everyone!

Wow, I really can't believe I have turned 20.  It feels like I've taken a big leap in life!  Too cool!  Thanks so much for the birthday wishes and all.  President and Sister Searle are really great!  They both called me on Saturday to wish me happy birthday!  They are really great people. 

The cake Sister Socorro bought me
Well this was an awesome week!  We had an exchange which was pretty fun, and I got one of the packages from my mom!  Also this upcoming week we have a big conference with President Searle which will be fun! I'm hoping that they will bring me the other packages when we have our conference with President on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to that.

Also this week, or yesterday, Jairo, the brother in the ward that makes way good meals for us every Sunday, showed us these huge caterpillars.  His neighbor has this tree that is littered with hundreds of them and I'm not kidding, they are like 9 inches long!  Too crazy!  I'll try to get a picture of one next time!

This week we did not have our planned baptism!  Edelma, who was going to be baptized Saturday, who is one of the sisters of the big family that we teach, still hasn't gotten married.  They are just waiting for some money to buy the clothes and everything.  But then we got some bad news about her family that the mom of this big family had a stroke or something Friday so they were all at the hospital and everything.  I think they are doing good now, but we aren't sure.  We are going to pass by tonight to see how they are doing.  They are such nice people!

Alright, to talk about my birthday!  It was a great weekend to say the least!  So on Saturday we went to lunch with a member and she bought me a cake and everything.  So nice.  Also some members in the ward called me to wish me a happy birthday.  The people here are really so nice!  I'll include some pictures!  

Elder Margarisca and I eating lunch Saturday


Then in the afternoon the other elders in the ward had a baptism so we went there and then after the ward mission leader took us out to ice cream.  After that we went over to another members house and they had bought a cake and everything! It was just a super fun day.  

Second Birthday Celebration with the Ward Mission Leader
(red frosting on our noses)
Elder Margarisca and I with Ward missionaries
Some of the youth made me a Birthday Sign
Flexing our muscles with some of the Priests in the ward
Today another member is going to have a BBQ for us missionaries and stuff for another birthday celebration! Too much fun!  This member also has a pool, which is almost unheard of here, so I'll try to get some pictures of that!

                      

                      







Well I am doing good here!  I can't believe that it's already December!  Too crazy!  Have a great and safe week!

Elder Crandall



Monday, December 1, 2014

NO THANKSGIVING DINNER BUT STILL GRATEFUL

DECEMBER 1, 2014


TURBACO
Turbaco Ward, Los Alpes Stake
Companion:  Elder Margarisca

Hi Everyone,

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Mine here was just another day since the people don't celebrate that holiday here. I think I'd have to say that Thanksgiving is one, if not, my favorite holiday.  Definitely missed that one!  This week on Thanksgiving we did nothing special, we didn't even eat dinner.  But oh well!  I think I'll make sure next year that we have a good Thanksgiving!  To make Thanksgiving worse I felt a little sick!  On Tuesday, I think my companion and I drank bad milk and we just felt super sick all day. He felt better the next day but my stomach pain lingered a little longer!  But all is well now!

It was fun seeing pictures of the family at Thanksgiving.  The kids are all growing up so fast! They're so big!  I can't believe it!  One of our recent converts in our area has a son the age of Davis and it dawned on me yesterday when we were teaching him about how big he has to be by now!  Too fun!  I also cannot believe that I am turning 20 this week. It definitely feels weird to think about!

I realized this week that I haven't really written about the people we are teaching here so I will do that now!  Well I think last week I said this, but we are teaching like one big giant family.  Uncles, cousins, grandparents, siblings, just everything!  I feel like everytime we go there there is someone new!  But anyway, only one person of this family is a member of the church, Yadelsy.  She was baptized about 2 months ago and we are really working hard with her husband, Luis F......., but we call him Lui Fer, and her daughter Linda. They both are progressing a ton and we are hoping they can make it to the water on the 13th! We also are working a ton with all of the siblings of Yadelsy, but especially with one named Edelma. She is super funny!  We are really trying to help her get married so she can fulfill the law of chastity and this Saturday, on my birthday, she plans on going through with it. The plans lack a lot of details, but we hope that we can get everything solid to go through with them this week.  Satan really has been attacking us with this work with her this week! She was super sick and everytime we went to go visit her something came up. Then we finally got there and we were watching the movie "The Restoration" and, of course, right when we were at the part where Joseph Smith was about to go to the grove and pray, the power goes out.  What are the odds of that!  But she always goes to the church activities and loves feeling the spirit.  Everyone here is so great and nice!

 A family home everning lesson we had yesterday

Choir practice from yesterday
The Hulk and friends at a store in Cartagena
The Brother in our Ward that makes the best lunches on Sundays

To answer some of your questions, I have not seen any live nativities here, although I'm sure you can probably find one.  Almost everyone here and everyone that iIhave met here in Colombia is Christian and believes in God.  The extent and understanding differs though. I'd say most people say that they are Catholic or Evangelic, but not all attend church.  I'm not too sure yet if there are any specific or different things here to celebrate Christmas such as food and stuff like that.  This last week I did see though that a couple of houses have Christmas lights on them.  The music in the streets also has been the same vallenato and champetta and salsa.  It hasn't changed to Christmas music and I don't think it will either. We downloaded some Christmas songs and will start playing them in the house soon. My ward is preparing a choir and we are going to go around and sing songs.  One elder is playing the piano and I am playing the guitar.  Another elder knows how to play a lot of the hymns pretty good so I'm not too needed when it comes to playing the piano in church.

We were going to go into Cartagena today but we ended up playing futbol. There's a really old Spanish battle fort here in Cartagena that I want to go to see but no one else really does.  Haha,  hopefully one of these days!  I'll include the futbol pics.

P-day Futbol
Well I love and miss you all so much!  Have a great and safe week!
Elder Crandall

Monday, November 24, 2014

GANDALF THE WHITE and FRODO

NOVEMBER 24, 2014


TURBACO
Turbaco Ward, Los Alpes Stake
Companion:  Elder Margarisca

Hey everyone! 

Well I'll start out by explaining the title of the email.  So here in this ward someone found out that my name sounds a lot like Gandalf because in Spanish Crandall sounds a little like Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings, so now everyone remembers my name by that, and I'm one of the only white guys here so I have given myself the title of Gandalf the White, haha!   Also someone commented that Elder Margarisca was Frodo, from the same movie and we were all laughing hard for a while haha!  I'm glad the people remember my name here!

It was nice to be able to go out and work again (after staying inside a week).  I know it's not always the funnest thing walkng around, sweating, and talking to strangers, but it's all worth it in the end, if not for me, for others.Things are all going well though.  Today we will be going into Cartagena so I might send some more pictures later today.  Turbaco is a cool little town and I still don't have Chikunguña thankfully!
After a family home evening that we had this last week
My companion really likes me to take pictures of him - haha!
To answer some of your questions, Turbaco is a small town and there aren't too many people here.  There's only one ward, although it does have a higher attendance than my other ward in Barranquilla.  There also are only 4 missionaries here.  I feel here the temperature changes a little more than in Barranquilla.  In Barranquilla it's always blazing hot.  Here I feel like it's hotter sometimes, but then clouds come in and we get a breeze. It's still hot, but at least there is a breeze!  It also has been raining a lot lately, especially the week we were locked in the house, but this last week it didn't rain too much.  

The food is the same, I think it's probably about the same in most parts of South America, lots of rice!  But every Sunday we go to the same family´s house for lunch and they are way good at cooking!  Some of the best meals I've had on my mission!  I'll include a picture of this last Sunday, we helped make some stuffed bell peppers, which is something totally different than what I usually have!  
My companion and I in front of the house that we eat lunch at every Sunday
My companion stuffing a bell pepper
Me stuffing a bell pepper
Also a lot of the families here have a little more money than the people in my last area, I think, because the houses are bigger. Some people have ranches and stuff so that's pretty cool!  I think I failed to mention that behind our house is a little farm with horses and chickens and stuff!  A lot of families live together, like right now we are teaching a huge family consisting of granparents uncles, cousins, siblings, just everything!  I swear everytime we go there I see someone new!  There are like 5 families that all live next to each other so we don't have to walk too much on the days we pass for them.
My companion and I with part of the big family we are teaching
So another thing I forgot to tell you guys last week was about the addresses here!  There almost are no addresses and so the people refer to their house from reference points.  For example, a reference we got this week was: go to neighborhood San Pedro, go the store on the corner and then follow the second street until you see a house with two stories, then it's the fifth house after that, oh and it's the green house.  The addresses are like that!  I'm not sure how I will be able to find my way around here haha!

I'm so glad to hear that everyone is doing great! I love seeing the pictures of the ASU game.  I remember those games and can't wait to go to them again when I get back!  I pray for the whole family a lot!  I'm very thankful that God is taking care of you all while I am here.  Such a blessing! 

So we went into Cartagena today but we just went to the mall.



Also cool to hear about the family having Thanksgiving in New York!  They don't really celebrate that here so I'm not sure what I'm going to do for that day!  That always has been one of the best holidays at home!  But really all is going well!  Love and miss you all!  Have a great week!

Elder Crandall