Cochabamba, Bolivia Temple

Cochabamba, Bolivia Temple

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas pictures

Elder Yates sent a separate email of several pictures. Once again he forgot to label them, but based on the conversation we were able to have over Christmas, I'm pretty sure I can label them all pretty accurately:

 Christmas and birthday packages from home!
Note the pictures of Mary and Jesus on the boxes? Neither package was opened or delayed - we think the picture is the reason why.

 His desk all decorated for the holidays with treats and decorations from home.

 We asked about public transportation, so he included a picture of the "Micros" or buses. This one doesn't look very crowded at the moment, but he says they usually are far more crowded and everyone always thinks there's room on the micro, regardless of how crowded it currently is...

 A local Nativity

 Several Elders in front of the Nativity

 Christmas lights

 A pretty Christmas tree he found. I wonder if he noticed all the alcohol bottles underneath it :D (he probably did, which might be why he took the picture)

 Elder Yates and his companion Elder Guzman

 Elder Yates and his companion from the MTC, Elder Gunderson

 Another decoration in their casa

 The Elders starting a fire in their BBQ for their Christmas Eve feast

 Some of that BBQ feast...

Fin de Ano (End of the Year)

Well, this is the last letter of the year 2014. Hard to believe it's passed already. The Bolivians appear to be enjoying this last little bit of the year with little firecrackers and the such everywhere. Combined with the travels and the drinking, we really didn't have the opportunity to teach much this week. Plus we had to return home a little early the 24/25 (and will have to 31/1 as well) oby order of the President, so our most productive hours were a little difficult to use effictively. Oh well, the time passes and things will return to normal.
Since I also had the wonderous opportunity to Skype my family on the 25, I think that this letter will be significantly shorter since we already have communicated this week.
Elder Yates

Bueno, a little more won't hurt I guess. During the call, my parents made sure to ask about the things I don't share, so I'll expound a little more. It's actually a rule to not write negative comments or remarks about the people, culture, or country. And, as luck would have it, I rather enjoy to notice and comment on this very thing. There are also things I don't share because I don't want anyone to run down here in panic. Everything is fine, despite what the stories may sound like. If I get a promise for everyone to stay tranquilo (calm) I might share some 'fun' experiences that I was going to save until after the mission. Who knows.
Anyway, we really ate a lot this week. On Tuesday we went as a mission to a buffet and literally ate everything that was prepared. EVERYTHING. Naturally, I made sure to add more than my fair share of the feasting. Then, on Christmas Eve, us 6 missionaries used our handy-dandy grill to make some steaks in celebration. The following day we ate a bunch of sausage. The members also made sure we were eating these special days.
As many already (and should) know, my birthday was also this past week. Many also know about the little celebration we had in the house of our Ward Mission Leader, where they were amazing enough to prepare a cake (which was delicious by the way). What probably is not well known is that our investigator that is (hopefully) getting baptized this Saturday also made a bunch of treats and a birthday card when we stopped by to visit. Not entirely sure how they found out it was my birthday, but I'm guessing it's because of the Facebook posts. Darned social media is everywhere.
In attempt to make these letters a little longer for my Mother (love you!) I'll try also adding a little something I learned during my studies. So, as I started to read the Doctrine and Covenants in the proper order of revelation (no, the sections are not in order) I noticed something very interesting. The vast majority of the first 20 revealed sections start the same way: about how the field is white and ready to harvest. So, probably, I'm thinking the time is right to bring all unto Christ...
Elder Yates
***Mom Yates here - I sent a separate email this week with a couple of questions and decided to share his answers because I find them interesting.***
I've also been wondering if people pronounce your name as one syllable like we do here at home, or do they pronounce it as 2 “Yah-tes”?
About the Yates thing, it's very interesting. Some people use one syllable and some use two. It appears to depend on how much 'schooling' the person received in English and if they connect me with the US. Not entirely certain which is more common, but I think two syllables is. I always introduce myself with 2 syllables, but again, some people disregard what I say and use one syllable.
I loved the birthday cake that Sister Linares made, it looked really good. What did she put in between the layers?
The cake had peaches in the middle. I don't know what it is with Bolivia and peaches, but they are quite popular.
Here are a few pictures Sister Linares posted on Facebook of this amazing cake and the celebration they had for my missionary

Friday, December 26, 2014

The rain has begun (Monday, December 22)

Well, I'd like to take this oportunity to say that it began raining this past Wednesday. It's been kind of strong and then weak, but it has not stopped yet. As of now, the streets are rivers, the roads are mud, the canals are practically overflowing, and everything is wet. It was literally impossible to leave our house without wading through water, so we mad make-shift boots with plastic bags. Unfortunately, one of my bags ripped a little so my shoe is a bit wet, but whatever. A little bit of water isn't going to stop me. Yet...
Anyway, this week had several exciting points and a few not so exciting points. What is important is that I'm alive, right?
So we had several days this week completely pre-planned with future appointments. Unfortunately, Practically all of them failed. The failed to such a degree that Friday we did literally nothing but walk all day. Man I love how people say they're going to do something and then not do it. In the defence of one person, he was at his house at the 'scheduled' time, but he was also getting drunk with his friends. We decided to pass by this time.
Sunday night was super special, as all the missionaries in Santa Cruz gathered in a plaza and we sang for an hour and a half. We were also iluminatd with a bunch of lights and greeted with tons of people. What was even more fun was trying to return home on time, because we had never heard of this plaza before and the person we traveled with to reach the plaza dissapeared. Heh heh, good times.
One of the gifts sent to me was badly ripped open, and I could tell it was cookie dough. While I am extremely grateful to have some tastey treats, we have a small problem: we don't have an oven. So, I'm not entirely sure how or if we can bake them...
So last week we had the pleasure of breaking into a house. This week we were lucky enough to break out of a house. What happened is we stopped by to visit a menos active (less active), and, upon letting us in his gate, locked the gate. Imediately after locking it, he exclaimed he doesn't have a key to unlock it since the rest of his family left to do something or other without him. So, we had two options; wait until almost 11 pm for his family to arrive (and most likely be killed by lightning/our zone leaders/the Mission president) or hop the fence. Not surprisingly we decided to hop the fence. Not as easy as it sounds because the fences here are crazy and barbed. Man the missionary life is the best.
Elder Yates

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mail time (December 15)

This week was kind of slow in the beginning, but the end of the week was pretty interesting...
So last Monday we went and played football (soccer) with another zone, which was pretty interesting. However, it seems like there is never sufficient time on Monday to do everything I would like to do. I feel like this feeling will persist a little in my life in general, however, so I try not to worry too much.
As a mark of great joy, I received two wonderful packages from my family for the Christmas season, which I opened promptly so find many decorations, treats, and presents. After decorating, I made sure to take pictures to send home, and then forgot to bring my camera. Welp, some things never change. It's very festive however, so take my word for it. As for the presents, I'll probably try to wait until Christmas to open them, unless my family suggests otherwise of I get exceptionally anxious. Who knows.
So on Friday (or Saturday, everything's a blur) we went searching for a referencia and a antiguo investigador. (referral and an old investigator) Unfortunately, we didn't find either. However - and this is interesting - we did find a family that is super menos activo (less active) with many members, the grandparents having 8 living children. We also found a new investigador that is very receptive; the Spirit was very strong when he prayed at the end (on the side note, when we asked when we could return his inicial response was 10/1, so we talked a little more).
Ok, so I'm not the greatest at remembering day to day experiences and feelings to express them later, sue me. However, first it's story time.
So yesterday our best investigadora (the one getting baptized 3/1) didn't make it to Church at all. And, being the loving and caring people we are, we stopped by in the afternoon to make sure everything was alright. We found her, her family, and her sister/friend/someone locked in her house because all three of her gates had been locked and she was unable to find the key for any of the three locks. So, we had the oportunity to break a lock and, essencially, into her house. It was pretty funny because of the weird looks we got from passerby's as we were hammering away at a locked gate. Us Mormónes will share the Gospel at any cost it seems.
Elder Yates

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pictures with labels from Elder Yates this time

So, as a missionary, this little book is pretty important. Important enough to be printed in several languages, 4 of which I'm lucky enough to have. I can read and understand 3 (yes, three) of them, but the fourth one is gibberish. You can probably guess the languages of 3 of them, but I'd wager a third of my 5th born son's inheritance no one can guess the language of the last one. This language is so obscure, it doesn't have all the chapters translated (see next picture)
Most noticably, it doesn't have any of the chapters from Isaiah.

These are our little Él es la Dádiva cards to hand out, which I like quite a bit.

Letter (Monday, December 8)

Hurray for another chance to write home! Evidently, ya'll still want more information, so I'll go ahead and try to share what you want to know. If I still don't explain what you want to know, please email me and I'll explain a little bit more.
First off, a little about my companion, Elder Guzmán. He is from Perú and is exceptionally taller than I am, probably over 6ft. He has 10 months in the mission, most of the time being spent outside the city. He is humorous and helpful, another great companion. He can speak English, but not very well, because his father speaks English and taught him a thing or two.
We got a new investigator this week, in a very strange way actually. As we were returning home, we were stopped by a woman and called us over to speak to us. As it turns out, her sister lost her new-born child recently and wants to find comfort in religion. Also, she has had many difficulties in her family as well, having lost her brother and father in an accident. So, we gave her the Plan of Salvation pamphlet, took a appointment, and headed home. Plus, she attended church with us, so I think she will find great joy and peace. (Claudia Guerrero)
We were informed Tuesday night that Wednesday we had interviews with the president, and Elder Guzmán had immigration paperwork to do at 6. Unfortunately, we were in an intercambio (transfer), so we had to get up at 4, walk for over an hour, then quickly get ready to head over to the immigration place thingy. After this, we headed over to the mission office so we could be ready for our interviews, which were supposed to take place at 11:45. We got our interviews just before 4 and left to eat dinner. So, not much done this day.
The rest of the week was pretty normal, except for Saturday where we didn't do much again because of Missionary correlation and ward council meetings combined with eating with members taking up the entire day, practically.
So twice this week we have had lessions (lessons?) until 9 at night, with our curfew being no later than 9:30 or we get struck by lightning for living in apostasía (apostasy). To make things super fun, both nights we were probably 1.5-2 miles away from our house, and the bus that passes by our house doesn't pass by where we were. So, we walked (since we're not supposed to run) like mad, and luckily we made it home on time both days, granted with a little bit of pain. But hey, pain is better than death.
With love,
Elder Yates

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Diciembre (Monday, December 1)

Wow, it's hard to believe that it's already December. Christmas and (more importantly) my birthday are practically upon is. It makes me a little bit sad to realize I won't have the oportunity to be with my family during the holiday season, but it's not so bad when I remember I'll have eternity to spend with them, so a little break isn't so bad. This past week I saw (shown by the ward mission leader; tranquilo) my blog for the first time and, apparently, someone thinks my letters are lacking a bit, so I'll try to improve a little bit.

First I'll start off with the fun thing: we did some service by going out into the jungle and destroyed some walls. Then, we took the rubble, loaded it up into a truck, drove it to a certain stretch of road, and unloaded the rubble. Supposedly, I'm told, it's to help make the road passable in the rain since the rubble provides a more firm layer, but who knows. Also, we didn't quite finish, so we're going to return sometime this week to destroy a little more (woohoo!)
This week we had a surprise Multi-zone conference to learn about the new Church iniciative this Christmas season, Él es la Dádiva, which I assume is He is the Gift in English (not entirely sure why the world 'dádiva' was chosen, practically no one here knows it) to help people remember the true reason of Christmas. Not sure how much was made known to ya'll, but it's pretty sweet this new program.
Now then, there are things I can share and the things I can't (or shouldn't) share, either for my protection, the Church's reputation, or to avoid causing ya'll to worry, but I'll try to share a few stories here and there about what goes on down here in Bolivia. Unfortunately, this past week we didn't have much time to proselyte because of conferences, meetings, and service, but we did have an investigator tell us (the same one from a few weeks ago) she wants to be baptized, sí o sí, 3 de enero. (around January 3) So we did have a little happiness this week.
Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is not celebrated here. However, yesterday (30 de noviembre) was ward conference, and us missionaries were invited to almorzar with the obispo, (lunch with the bishop) which was topped off with APPLE PIE! Of course it wasn't as good as the pies made back home, but it was still pretty good, and it was close enough that I'll go ahead and call it my Bolivian Thanksgiving.
So I'll finish this letter with a short story in Spanish (since it wouldn't make much sense translated) and another in English about two experiences I've had.
Al tocar puertas, mí compeñero y yo encontramos una casa especial, porque no se puede ver afuera de la casa porque hay una pared y puerta grande. Cuando la tocamos, una mujer contestó. Ella nos vio, gasped y cerró la puerta diciendo "O no! Mormónes! Son Mormónes!" A eso, lo respondimos, "No, soy Elder Yates. Mormón fue un profeta de Dios." Unfortunately, she left and didn't respond. De modo.
(Essentially this is the English version as translated by Mark Sr.: While Knocking doors, my companion and I encountered a special house where you couldn't see the door because it was behind a large gate. When we knocked, a woman answered. When she saw us she gasped and shut the door. "Oh no! Mormons! It's the Mormons!" Then I responded, "No, I am Elder Yates. Mormon was a prophet of God." Unfortunately, she left and didn't respond. Oh well.)
As we were walking down the street, we were stopped by a guy on a motorcycle to be questioned. First, he declared that Mormons have multiple women, to which Elder Guzmán responded that he only had one mother and one father, so that was a lie. Next the man asked us if we had a different book then the Bible, "un libro de, uh, de un Smith. Sí, de Will Smith!" ¡Cuán gracioso! ("a book of, uh, of a Smith. Yes, of Will Smith. How funny!)  We told him we have a companion book to the Bible, translated by José Smith, but that Will Smith is an actor. Good times.
Hope this letter is a little more pleasing to ya'll
Elder Yates

Pictures from service

Elder Yates didn't send any explanations of these pictures, so I will do my best to label them.

I think this is the backyard they were working in

Putting up a covered patio
I'm sure Elder Yates is just taking a break, but has been working hard
And it is done! Look at all that shade...
Elder Yates and another Elder showing off all their hard work

Elder Yates, after a long day with his machetes

Should I be worried about how much he is enjoying those machetes?

The workers at the end of the service project and the family they were helping?

Elder Yates and his companion, Elder Guzman. A bit dirty, but still happy.

I would imagine this is the jungle the headed out to for the service

The truck is filled with the bricks from the wall they destroyed.