Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tanner's Last Email!!!!!

Tanner and the two missionaries he trained.
Well this email will probably be my last official email. Next Monday I will check this email, but I doubt that I will write a full length email. We will see.

I am definitely gonna a need a good foot and hand spa treatment when I get home. :) Maybe Emma and Mick can help me out that Friday night. As you can see from the picture, my foot fungus has returned once again. I am guessing Mick and Emma would be overjoyed to help me... :)

This week was a real good one. On Tuesday I was feeling pretty sick with diarrhea and vomiting, but by Wednesday I was feeling fine again. On Wednesday we had a multi-zone conference. Other than it being really long, everything went well and it was a good conference. I was sad to see a bunch of my favorite missionaries for the last time. That night we got back to Facatativa at 8:30. On Thursday we had to go back to Bogota to get my new cedula or Colombian ID. Luckily it was pretty easy and not too much of a pain in the neck. That day we also helped an elderly woman clean her couches. They are made of some sort of carpet/wool material, so we scrubbed them with soap and then with pure water. She was content with our work.

We also did another "Cine Mormon" activity this Saturday. This time we watched the Other Side of Heaven. It is a pretty decent movie. We had a good crowd show up. It was fun and everything enjoyed themselves.

So today we had our "flower tour." [Note from Brad - I have an employee who's parents are from Colombia and currently live in Miami.  They operate a flower importing and distribution business.  My employee arranged with her father who does a lot of business in Facatativa to have a tour of there facilities there.  Her father was very pleased to be able to do it.]  We met up with this guy named Felipe, some representative of a flower company connected with Sole Farms, or Mauricio Jaramillo´s company, at 10 AM. He and some woman drove us 30 minutes to Mountain Farms or Mountain Flowers, or something like that. Sole Farms has 45 farms in the Facatativa area. Each farm employs about 400 people. We arrived and were given a tour by Felipe, and 4 other staff members of Mountain Farm, including the main boss. They showed us the way flower are planted, maintained, cut, stored, packed, and shipped. It is a pretty legit scientific process. What I did not know is that they cut the flowers before they are fully developed so that when they arrive in store or your home they fully bloom or open there. They transport the flowers in very cold conditions right after they are cut until they arrive at Walmart, Costco, etc. The farm is all pretty well kept and well organized. Check out the link I will include below that shows pictures of the huge white tents under which all the flowers are grown. The tents are huge and the rows and columns of flower beds go on forever. Also, roses can take literally years to grow. They have some rose bushes that are 17 years old. Anyway, they treated us very well, got us free drinks and food at the cafeteria, showed us all over the facility, and even gave us two huge bouquets of flowers. These flowers were already packaged and I SWEAR the packaging had the Stop and Shop logo on it. Maybe SoleFarm is the provider of Stop and Shop flowers?? The bouquets would probably be dang expensive in the states. Anyway they then drove us back to Faca and dropped us off. Everyone was very nice and even though every single worker was staring at us the entire time, it was a cool experience. Mom would have loved it. I did not take any pictures, so look at the website for an idea of what it all looks like.


This is a run-down of my final week before I head home.

----This is my last week in the "field." On Sunday I will travel to Bogotá during the afternoon to stay with the missionaries in Quirigua overnight. Monday morning, I have to pick up Elder Henningson, my companion for the last week who is also ending his mission with me, from the bus terminal as he is coming in from Bucaramanga. Monday night we have a special fireside (a close knit meeting) in the mission home among all the missionaries ending their missions. There are 12 of us in the same group. 2 gringos, 3 Latin Sisters, and 7 Latin Elders. On Tuesday we have a program called PEF that lasts from 8AM till 5PM. PEF is pretty much a debriefing before they send us home. After PEF we will go to the temple in Bogotá. Wednesday I have my final interview with President Laney. Thursday I will have to wake up at 2AM to go to the airport on time to from my 7AM flight. Elder Henningson and I will both fly to Atlanta, but then he will head to Utah and I will head to CT. That pretty much sums up the last week of the mission. -----

I am out of time. I need to go. Love you all very very much.

Tanner's Last Zone Conference

Things are well here in Faca. We had a good week four and are looking to have a good week five too.

A dog Tanner and his companion rescued.
So the conference with Elder Rasband was pretty cool. We had to wake up so early, 4AM, to get to a chapel in Bogota by 7:30. We arrived and it was already packed. The entire Bogota North and the entire Bogota South and the MTC Colombia were all in the same chapel. Almost 450 missionaries in total. The meeting started at 10. Both Elder and Hermana Uceda gave good talks. Hermana Uceda spoke on not "playing" with sacred responsibilities or callings. She used D&C 8:10 and D&C 6:12 to back up her points. It was well done and right on point for these two missions.

Elder Uceda talked about carrying out not only a change of heart in our investigators, but also a change in our own hearts. Although he did not cite the scripture, the classic Helaman 3:35 came to mind. I love the phrasing of "yielding their hearts unto god." The word yield, if you ask me, has a context of submission or giving in. We sometimes fight so hard to do what we want when we want with whom we want, yet if we just accept and submit to the wonderful gospel of Jesucristo, everything will improve. That is a promise in Mosiah 2:41. “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

All in all, I just love the use of the word "yeild." A change of heart is one of the many changes that I have experienced. My heart still has a lot of changing to do, but we are making progress.

Hermana Rasband spoke about the Statue of Liberty and related it to the missionary work. She said some cool stuff, but what I enjoyed most was how she said that the Book of Mormon should be used, cared for, and given with the most absolute care. I agree. There are many missionaries that try to convert people using only the Bible. The Bible is great, yet to really be converted to the restored gospel, you must have a testimony of the Book of Mormon as well. My style of teaching has changed dramatically during my mission and while I am still no expert teacher, I have become much more refined.

Tanner has Rabbis?

This week was pretty good. We struggled getting lessons with investigators; however, we had a really good week when it came to less active members and recent converts.

Alexander and Martha are doing just fine. Alexander received the Aaronic Priesthood and was confirmed a Priest. He will bless the sacrament this upcoming week. That is good because here in Faca there are only two young men that attend. He is more than content with everything that is going on in the church. They are so good.

All the other recent converts of the last 6 months were at church. It was good to see the people that I am specifically working with all at church. The Gospel Principles class was packed. 

Also, the 4 less active members/families that we are specifically working with all came to church. They are good people and I enjoy teaching them. 

Elder Wright and I are doing really well. I really enjoy serving with him. He is not only a good missionary, but a good friend. We get along really well and I will definitely miss him when I leave.

So on Friday we were walking through the street and out of nowhere a dog came up and bit my right calf. I did nothing to provoke it. It literally came out of nowhere and took a bite. I did not really think much of it because it was not that bad, but on Sunday Night the health secretary called me and commanded me to urgently go to the hospital in Bogota the next day to get it checked by a doctor. So today we went to Bogota.  After waiting a butt ton of time a doctor checked out of my leg, said that I probably did not have rabies, but said just in case I need to get the rabies shots. So right then are there they gave me some sort of shot in the arm, then used clothing detergent to clean the leg, then sent me to a different hospital to get the first of 5 shots over a period of one month. So I got the other shot in the other arm and I have to come back on Thursday to get the second shot. They give the shots on day 0, day 3, day 7, day 14, and day30. Also, I have to go back for a checkup later on in the week. I am not too happy about all this. We are gonna waste a ton of time and money traveling back and forth. I kinda got salty with the health secretary because I definitely do not need the shots, but he said that I had to. Whatever. Mom and Emma, I am fine. I do not have rabies and am totally ok. The bite kinda hurt though. haha

I do not have many photos, just to scrubs selfie that I sent.

We met some gringo named John here in Faca this week. He came down here to Colombia to get married. After the marriage the wife stole over half of his money and bounced. He doesn’t really love Colombia. However, he bought a farm up in the mountains and he lives there in solitude. He is pretty much an alcoholic and smokes a ton of weed. He is an interesting character.

There is the tradition that in the last zone conference you get up and share your testimony. I am the only one ending my mission in the zone, so we will see what happens this Wednesday. I will base my testimony probably on three things, the cleansing power of the atonement, the reality of the Book of Mormon, and the true power in the Priesthood. My testimony is strong in these 3 things.

This week we gave talks in church. Elder Wright was super nervous, but he did fine. My talk went well. I spoke on how we can prepare ourselves to share the gospel. Pretty standard. We give talks every 3rd Sunday of the month.

Things are well family. I love you all very much. Be safe and do good. The church is a blessing in our lives. We should do better to appreciate it. 

I found a good scripture this week. Proverbs 26:11

Alexander & Martha Get Baptized!

So yesterday night we received the transfers and nothing changed. I will finish Elder Wright`s training here in Faca 1 and 2. In fact no one in the district was changed.

So as I mentioned in the call that Alexander and Martha were baptized this Saturday. It was a good service other than that is started really late. There was probably 40 in attendance. They were more than content. This Sunday Juan Jose was given the Priesthood and was ordained to the office of Priest. He is literally super smart. You can ask him anything that has to with the Old Testament, history, law, etc. and he is there with the answer. It was a joy to teach him and we will do our best to keep on helping him out on his conversion process. Everything has been picture perfect with him. Literally.

It was great talking to yall yesterday. It was fun, obviously too short, but great overall. Happy Mother’s Day again mom!

Well it is hekka weird to think that this is literally the last transfer. 6 weeks is gonna go by so fast. I am glad to be training to finish. I think it will keep me extra focused.

I don’t think that I spoke clearly enough yesterday when I commented on the Book of Mormon. What I was saying is that every time when I read it, it seems as if my mind just opens and I begin to watch the book, not just read it. The Book of Mormon is the base of my testimony. I would be lying if I said that my testimony is super strong when it comes to other gospel practices or principles; however, you are not gonna convince me that the Book of Mormon is false. It is one of the few things that I can say with certainty that are true.

Tanner's Happy Surprise from Bucamaranga

Things are well here in Facatativa. Today we did not do much. Some old guy hustled me in ping pong. I lost and had to buy him a pop. I was pretty salty.

We had a good week. Alexander and Martha are progressing just fine. We will have the baptismal service this Saturday at 5 PM. This Sunday they both got up to share their testimonies. They are really good.

The family from Pueblo Viejo unfortunately did not go to church this week due to some legitimate reasons. We had a good lesson with them the other day and the daughter came out of the blue saying that she wants to get baptized. It was cool. Last night a member that we brought on the previous lesson with them called us and asked us if he could go visit them by himself. I thought, what could be the worst that could happen. I still have not called him to ask him how it went. Hopefully well. They are a good family. The dad kinda looks like Wolverine.

This Saturday we borrowed the big soul question cube from the zone leaders and put it up in front of the biggest mall that there is here in Faca. We were quite the spectacle. haha. It was so crowded that day and even though not a ton of people came up to us, we did get a TON of people that saw us and our spectacle. It was fun. I sent some pics.

This is Samuel from Bucaramanga. He contacted me in the street one day when I was in intercambios with Elder Calaway. It is cool that he got baptized. 
Btw, as dad commented, in the last 6 months I have gained some weight. I am guessing around 8 pounds. It has been fun. During the summer I will have to do some serious work to get back to what I was pre-mission.

Also, the last 15 chapters of Alma could make a SICK war movie.... just saying..... haha

Alexander & Martha - and Tanner's Thoughts on Sin

Things are going well with Elder Wright. He is a really good kid. We get a long well and he is improving little by little. I am so glad I got him versus the other whites in his group. They were all way weird. Elder Wright is definitely a bro.

Alexander and Martha continue to progress really well. They already have 4 back to back attendances of the three hours. The requirement is 3 attendances. Anyway, they are doing really well for the 7th of May. We are working on getting a lot of members to come to their house to befriend them. It is working and they are already inviting people from Bogota to come to the service. Their progress is a real tender mercy.

We are also seeing some unexpected progress from a family of 5. They are old investigators that came to the church 2 years ago and then stopped coming. They are a good humble family that live in this sketchy part of Faca that is on top on a mountain. It is a hike to get up there. I really want this family to do well. They are not married, but they are interested in the option. They came to church this week, all five of them, but only stayed the first hour. Hopefully we can put a fecha with them this week to help them progress towards sometime in June. Please pray for them.

We are having a lot of teaching opportunities here in Faca. We are already, even after opening two areas, teaching more lessons that the two prior companionships had combined. In the last three weeks we have found 13, 15, and 13 new investigators, when the average of our zone is 4 a week. I say this not to boast, because we still have a LONG ways to go; I am just excited about what is happening in the areas. Alexander and Martha, and then hopefully this family of 5 from Pueble Viejo show the most promise at this point.

Today we went to the Jehovah´s Witness "center" or "visitors center" thing. It was actually pretty dope. They have an army of workers that keep the place spotless. They print off all the magazines, books, etc for Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and Ecuador. It was pretty impressive. Everyone was SO nice. Too nice though. The place is huge and cool.

One thing that I have thought much about lately in the severity of sin. I think sometimes we do not realize just how much damage sin really does. Satan is the great imitator, father of lies, and the son of the morning. He knows us well. He knows our faults/weaknesses, and even knows the scriptures. If we do not build up a good defense, we will lose, and the sin will stain us. However, the Atonement is real, and it is powerful. It erases sin completely. I have experienced its grand power. If all the world would come to a greater comprehension of the Atonement, things would be a lot different.

Tanner in the Salt Mines

Today we went to one of the biggest tourist places in Colombia, the Salt Mines of Zipaquira. They were super cool. Look it up on the internet. We took some good fotos. I will send them next week. I was fun and really cool. The mines are HUGE. It was a lot of fun.