Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween!!!!

{Wow, Evan's sister--me--has been TERRIBLE at keeping up his blog! Has it really been a year since I updated??! Sorry!}

Dear Family!

Today I went to the temple! It was so nice to go again! I haven't been in like 4.5 months! We have a new rule that only allows the missionaries to go to the temple 4 times a year now. But it was a great spiritual experience like always, and I left the temple just feeling so grateful to Heavenly Father for His being so perfect and so intelligent and so loving and creating a perfectly, amazingly beautiful Plan of Salvation. I understand my purpose so much thanks to the Plan of Salvation, and I can say that it's perhaps in that aspect that my testimony has been most strengthened during my time in the mission. Going to the temple,  I was also reminded of my first day here in Colombia. My first night, we slept in a hotel next to the temple and I remember looking at it through the hotel window. And the next morning, we weren't able to enter the temple, but we walked around the gardens of the temple. That was 19 months ago! I've already been in Colombia for over 1.5 years! And I've been on the mission for 21 months now! Time flies by so fast! I feel a mixture of sadness and happiness at the same time. Happiness because I'll be with my family again, but sadness because I'll be leaving behind my Colombian family. It's so crazy - this place is like my second home. I know that you guys probably imagine Colombia as some foreign, exotic place. But I don't even see it like that anymore. I feel so comfortable here, and I can get myself around the city of Bogotá better than I can in Houston, haha! I still don't know exactly when I'll be getting home, but just keep waiting and I'll let you all know very soon. It'll be at least within the next month, I believe.

Mom, thanks for the things you sent me! I love that you remembered that Sour Patch Kids is my favorite candy! I still haven't opened the bag because I'm waiting til Halloween to go nuts and eat some freaking candy! Haha! And thanks for the protein bars too! I'm gonna get home ripped! Haha! Speaking of Halloween, it'll be fun to see all the little kids dressed up! Rascal, send me some pictures of Tyler and Braden in their costumes, please! In our ward, they're not gonna have a ward Halloween party for everyone. They already had one for the Primary, but that's about all they're gonna do. Halloween's not as big here in Colombia. There are a lot of Christian churches that prohibit it, actually. And the members of the church like it, but they also don't go all out like we do in the United States. The Montoya family that got baptized recently invited us to their business to help them pass out candies, and my companion and I are gonna make good use of the opportunity to contact people.... and eat some candy too... Their 5 year-old daughter, Valeria, told me she was gonna dress up as Belle, from Beauty and the Beast. And so I jokingly asked her, ''And who's gonna be the beast? Your dad??'' Haha, she thought it was pretty funny :)

Welp, this week has been challenging, mostly for my companion. Actually, these two transfers with him have been challenging. I didn't ever mention anything to you guys. Earlier in the mission, I remember that I would complain to you guys about my companions, but I decided that I'm not gonna do that anymore, so that's why I never said anything. It doesn't help me to love them, really. And loving my current companion has been EXTREMELY HARD. Like I said, I'm not gonna complain and I'm not gonna give details, but what I wanna tell you all is that about 2 days ago my companion and I had a very long discussion. I mostly just wanted to help him, because I don't believe he is finishing his mission how it ought to be. He goes home to Ecuador next week, and I don't see that he has been very happy in the mission, or that he has loved it, or even grown to love the people very much. And so I wanted to help him. A missionary ought to finish their mission a happier person, a more loving person, a more patient person, etc. I prayed to Heavenly Father that he would help me to make the discussion a very spiritual experience, and not an argument. And Heavenly Father answered my prayer, knowing that I truly wanted to help out Elder Quiñonez. We talked and we talked and we talked, and he began to cry. I began to cry too. I don't know what all the problems are that he's having, within himself, or within his family, or whatever. But I know that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and the Restoration, he can be happy, and change his future. And perhaps be happy his last week in the mission. Long story short, I was able to help him out, and I was actually able to love him too, and that makes me feel AMAZING:)

Well fams, thanks for all your love and support! I'm so fortunate to have an amazing family like you all!

Elder Bogdan

Monday, October 24, 2011


Yo fams! I'm writing today (Monday) because everytime there are transfers, our Pday changes to Monday.

So the big news is transfers! Welp, nothing too exciting. I'm staying in the same area and getting a new companion tomorrow. His name's Elder Benavides and he's from Ecuador. He is gonna be the most experienced companion I've had so far because he's got like 17 months in the mission, so that's pretty cool, because he can teach me a WHOLE BUNCH! So it looks like I'm not gonna be training anyone, I'm still gonna be junior companion, and I'm gonna be in the same area as well. I didn't think I was gonna be staying here, and my companion didn't think that he would be getting transferred. One of the brothers in the ward was certain I was gonna be leaving and he started telling all the members that I was getting transferred. Little dork, haha. Yesterday in church, all the members in the ward were saying bye to me and wishing me luck in my new area. I felt bad because no one was saying bye to my companion.

I was kinda bummed that I wasn't gonna be leaving this area - I wanted a change. But it seems to me that there is someone here who still needs to hear the gospel from me. I'm just having a difficult time finding them! This area certainly has been a refiner's fire for me, and I think there's still more challenges for me that I need to face and more lessons I need to learn. It's been hard not having a single baptism in the 4.5 months I've been here. And I know that the number of baptisms doesn't define a successful mission, but it'd be nice. I know there are amazing missionaries in other countries where it's more difficult to baptize and have 1 baptism in two years. But at least in those countries, ALL the missionaries are facing that trial. Here in Bucaramanga, I feel like I'm the only one not baptizing. Everybody else is having plenty of baptisms, and if not plenty, at least one baptism.

But good news: we have been teaching a 20-yr old named Laura Sanchez and she is progressing amazingly! She goes to church EVERY week (something that no other investigator does), she reads the scriptures with true interest, she highlights things she likes while reading, she prays, she repents, she has comitted to live the law of chastity, and is giving up tea (which she said she likes a lot) in order to keep the commandment of the Word of Wisdom. She is excited for her baptismal date planned for the 12th of November! And it helps so much that she is a good friend of one of the members in the ward. See you guys what a big difference it makes when the investigators are friends with the members? When the members give the missionaries referrals? They have constant support from the members, they have the desire to go to church, they see the good in their member friends and want to be like them. So share the gospel! Give the missionaries lots of work to do! Make 'em sweat and beg for rest! haha!

Welp, that's everything! I love you family! Send me some encouraging words!

Elder Bogdan

Just so you know, I'm completing 9 months in the mission TODAY!

Welp, I have so much time and so much to say! Scratch that. Reverse it. And keep in mind that today's opposite day. Therefore, what I truly was trying to say is that I don't have much to say, and I also don't have very much time... haha

This week we FINALLY received a reference from a member of our ward! An ex-missionary of 25 years gave us the reference of his likely future girlfriend and wife, and so we started teaching her! She has a very sincere desire and accepted in the first visit to get baptized. She is progressing extremely well and reads the Book of Mormon so obediently. She highlights what she likes from the chapters we assign her and everything! Her name is Laura Sanchez, and she is passing through some problems right now, and it's a great privilege to be able to help her overcome those problems. I love being able to share my experiences with people, and bear my testimony of the healing power of the Atonement. And I get to do that when we teach her:)

The English classes I'm teaching are doing well, and I taught my students about the names of different parts of the body, and to practice the names, we sang and danced ''Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes''! Haha! It was funny because there were adults and youth dancing and singing as well. I gave them lots of candies afterwards for their enthusiasm. Remember how when we were kids we would always go to the bishop after church, say what we learned, and he would give us candy? Well, I've taken on that role here in Nuevo Sotomayor. The primary kids come to me after church and attack me for candy! It's so funny! haha!

I gave a talk this past Sunday that got many compliments from the members afterwards. I thank Heavenly Father because He inspired me to give a talk about Ssrvice, he helped me as I planned the talk for days, and it was His Spirit that touched the hearts of the members. As part of my talk, I shared the story of Grandpa Valdizan and how he didn't wanna listen to the sister missionaries at first, but one day the sisters were passing by and performed an act of service, helping out grandpa move stuff from the house when water was entering into his home. I talked about how service can help others recognize us as true Christians and want to learn more about the gospel and live the gospel. That night, we also had a missionary work fireside, which was also a success! I love the members of the ward here a LOT, and they love me a lot too. In spite of that, this week is the last week of the transfer, and I kinda hope I get transferred. I want something new. I wanna new ward and a new companion. Someone mentioned to me that perhaps I might be training next transfer. It's possible... How scary! I don't know if I'm ready for that! But I know that Heavenly Father will greatly help me out, as He lovingly helps me out with EVERYTHING, from the biggest things to the smallest things:) Welp, take care fams! THanks to all those who wrote me! I haven't had the opportunity to read all your letters yet, but thanks anyways! I love you hooligans!


Elder Bogdan

PS- Just so you know, I'm completing 9 months in the mission TODAY! A baby's being born! NUTS!
Familia Mìa!

WoWzeRs! I got lots of letters this week! It was awesome! You guys really DO love me! Haha, thanks so much to all who wrote! Man, the weeks are just flying! This transfer is already gonna end and I'm gonna be completing 9 months in the mission! A baby will be born! Which is funny because there's a new convert couple in my ward who're gonna be having their baby within a week of my 9-month anniversary. Welp, seeing as the week flew by so quickly, I don't have very much to say.

Sad news: You all remember the powerful story about Elizabeth that I shared last week? Welp, we've talked to her some more about her baptism the 22nd of October and she wants to wait until the new year starts. Holy cow, right?? And maybe I would understand a little bit more if the reason were because she still feels a little afraid for her baptism, but that's not the reason. She doubts the response she has already received, and she told us that she has been praying that Heavenly Father will confirm her prayers through a dream, and as of now he has not answered her prayers in that manner. She also said that she wants to wait for the next year because this year we still haven't celebrated Christmas, New Year's, nor her birthday (which is this week). She told us that normally she drinks alcohol during those holidays and doesn't think she'll be able to resist that temptation. That was really sad news for us. It seems as if she still has not had a mighty change of heart, and is not willing to live the Word of Wisdom. We expressed to her our love and promised her that living the commandments, she will enjoy her holidays even more, because she will be focusing on Heavenly Father and her family more than on fiestas and drinking. And we invited her to keep praying to find out what Heavenly Father wants her to do, which is not necessarily what she wants to do. Do you guys have any advice? Please pray for Elizabeth and her family.

This week we have gained two new investigators who are willing to prepare themselves to get baptized - Salvador Ariza and Laura Sanchez! Both of them are very good people and have so much potential. Pray for them as well!

Welp, that's all that happened this week basically! I love you all! Take luck!... Errrr... Take... care of the luck that you might have! Hahaha Bryan Reagan.... :)

Elder Bognichnaknogdan (that's what some of the Elders call me as a joke because they know my last name is Russian so they change my name up even more to make it sound even more Russian haha)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The pear of great price

Dear Fams,

Thanks to all those who sent letters! Receiving lots of news this week was pretty cool, and hearing about all the blessings and happiness that is coming your ways fills me with such joy. Conference was soooooo spiritually uplifting, and I'm gonna strive to do what I usually don't do after conference and that is re-read my notes and try to APPLY the counsels of the Lord's servants. I invite all of you to do the same, and a good idea would be to dedicate your next family home evening talking more about one or more of the conference talks and making plans to apply the teachings in your families.

Well, this week I had an extremely amazing experience that I would like to share with yall! My mission president said once (and this is more or less paraphrasing) that we as members think the mission is the solution to our life's problems. We think that it will constantly be a spiritual blast, and we'll always be feeling great and super spiritual. But we learn on the mission that it is not the solution to our problems, and that it is a lot of tough work. The strong spiritual moments are far and few, separated by gaps of hard work, fatigue, and sometimes discouragement. In those gaps of grime and sweat, we must really make sure that our testimony of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, and the restored gospel is sufficiently strong enough to help us endure. Welp, I testify that all of that is 100% true. And fortunately, this past week, a gap concluded and I had one of those few strong, spiritual moments. I don't know if yall remember me talking about some investigators here in my area, the Martinez family. We are teaching the mom, Elizabeth, and her son, Diego (10 yrs old). She also has a son named Michael (3 years old). We have been teaching them for about 3 months. During those three months, they hadn't progressed very much. They go to church sometimes, and then don't go to church for about 2 or 3 weeks. We have lessons with them sometimes, and then we don't teach them for a week because the mom is busy. We invite them to church activities on days other than Sundays, and the mom sends her son with us to the activities, but she doesn't ever go. They lacked a sense of commitment, and lacked a testimony, but they had interest and were slowly progressing, so we weren't gonna stop teaching them. Well, before this week, we hadn't taught them for like 2 weeks, and we thought that maybe the mom lost interest and didn't wanna learn more. I was really worried that that had happened. I began to think about them a lot and what we could do to help them. My love for them began to grow as I realized that we might be losing them. We decided one day that we were gonna stop by the house unexpectedly and pay a visit. That morning, I prayed to Heavenly Father, asking for guidance during my studies to know how to help Elizabeth gain a testimony. And the Lord truly helped me and guided my studies.

During the visit, we began to ask her questions about how she has felt since we started teaching her, what blessings she has seen in her life, how she feels when she prays to know if what we teach is true, how she could recognize her responses. And at the end of the lesson, I remembered that I had studied that we must trust in Moroni's promise at the end of the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:3-5). And so trusting in that promise, and with a prayer in my heart and with faith, I pleaded that the Lord would help Elizabeth gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. We reviewed Moroni's promise with her, and then we knelt down and she offered an extremely heartfelt prayer. During the prayer, her little son Michael started to make noise and flicker the lights, and I got up during the prayer and detained the little scoundrel, and he got quiet. The people next door were also making a lot of noise outside of the house and using bad words. We could hear them during the prayer. But Elizabeth continued on. At the end of the prayer, we were quiet. My companion told me he was tempted to begin talking, but the Spirit told him not to. We looked at Elizabeth and her eyes were red. And we continued to be quiet. The quiet was the great key. I didn't even realize it but the noise outside and the bad words of the neighbors had ceased. I had already let go of little Michael and I don't know where he went, but he definitely wasn't interfering with the quiet. And suddenly, Elizabeth burst into tears. She began to cry for the first time since we had met her. The Spirit had spoken to her heart. And she told us, ''I feel a sense of peace. I feel a sense of peace.'' We helped her to realize that she had received her response. She told us to come back the next day, which was something she had never said. It always seemed like she didn't want us passing by too often, so she had never told us to ''come tomorrow.'' The visits were usually more spaced apart. But she told us to come by the next day. Heavenly Father had answered the prayers of my companion and I, as well as the prayer of Elizabeth. My companion and I continued thinking about the experience for the next 24 hours. I realized as I thought over and over about that powerful experience that it was indeed the first time that I had ever witnessed the prayer of someone being answered, apart from my own prayers. I was able to see that exactly how the Lord has answered my prayers, he had answered the prayer of Elizabeth. The difference in Elizabeth's prayer that day is that she was truly following the invitation of Moroni, praying with a sincere heart, with real intent, and having faith in Christ. It caused me to remember the days when I had prayed in my room at my bedside to know if God really loved me and was aware of me, if Jesus Christ was truly the Savior of the world, if the Book of Mormon was true, if Joseph Smith was a prophet, and if the church was true. I had such a deeply profound desire to know. I NEEDED to know. And I had prayed with a sincere heart, with real intent, and with the greatest faith that I was capable of having. Wow, just writing about the experience, I have a lump in my throat and my eyes are starting to water up a little bit. I know so strongly, with all my being, that Heavenly Father answered my prayers. And what an experience it was to see that process again, occurring in the life of another. Because Heavenly Father answered my prayer, I know that He loves me, that He is aware of me, that I am his son, that Jesus Christ is my Savior and my older brother, that His is the only name whereby I can be saved, that the Book of Mormon is true scripture, written by prophets of the ancient Americas, that the humble 14-year old Joseph Smith truly saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, that he was a prophet of God, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored church of Christ, the same church that Christ had establised on the Earth over 2000 years ago but that was lost after His death and the death of His servants. Like Joseph Smith said, ''I [know] it, and I [know] that God [knows] it, and I [cannot] deny it''.

Loved ones, we are so blessed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives. All the good news I have received this week, all the happiness our family is experiencing, all the blessings of the Lord we enjoy is a witness that the Gospel is true. Share it! Show it! Ye are the light and life of the world! The salt of the Earth! Help out the poor lil missionaries please! Like me, perhaps they are not having the sufficient support of the members like they should be having. This message is too great, to miraculous, to sweet and savorous to keep to ourselves! We have the pearl of great price. Will we keep it to ourselves?

Elder Bogdan


So loading these pictures took a while and I lost all time to write you guys. But I love you all very much! I am doing great here in Colombia! By the way, a lot of these pictures are from months ago... I'm so excited for conference this weekend! Make sure you all attend! Go to EVERY SESSION!!!! I DARE you....

Take care family!

Elder Bogdan

2 Nephi 9:49
Alma 36:3

Dear Family,

I can´t help but glory in the goodness of God whenever I think about how wonderful my family is. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful and loving family. The Lord has given us great unity and great love for one another. We are a living proof of the truthfulness of the gospel, of the happiness that comes when we live the principles that our Savior taught. I love you all very much!

Ok, well this week seemed really long. It was only 2 days longer, but it seemed like a lot more. Perhaps it also has to do with the fact that I haven't been getting along too well with my companion, Elder Jara, recently. We are both two very different people, and we think very different. Our basic rules of thought are even different. And it seems like almost everything he says annoys me. I know that he feels the same way too, and that it's not just me, because he bluntly told me that sometimes he hates me. And that's exactly how he said it too. Yeah, I know we have different ways of thinking, but I would never say that to him. That's just messed up. Nobody should ever say that. There is no purpose in saying it either, because it won't help the situation even a little bit. Anyway, there are just a lot of things he does (or doesn't do) that bother me. My patience is definitely being tried. I know that we have to talk things out or things won't get better. The last time we fought, we talked things out, and things definitely were better afterwards. So I'm gonna talk to him, and with a prayer in my heart and with love, I'm gonna tell him what is bothering me, so that we can fix it. I know that with these hard feelings, it's hard to feel the impressions of the Spirit. Therefore, we must correct things quickly. President Hacking tells us that the mission is a great preparation for marriage, and I know that's very true. There are a lot of things to learn about how to deal with and overcome problems. But I can't help but notice that there is a big difference in that we get to CHOOSE our spouses, and we get to know them a lot before living with them and working together in everything. On the other hand, as missionaries, we don't choose our companions. We just get suddenly put into the same house with them and we are obligated to work with them in everything. But I know that we have our specific companions for a reason, and that there is a great lesson to be learned in each companionship. The Lord assigns companions through revelation, and therefore I must trust in the Lord and comprehend that it is for His wise purposes, and that it is for the best. On the bright side, if I learn to be happy with someone that I didn't choose to live with, and with someone who is very different from me, I can definitely learn to be happy with my wife in all circumstances, in good and bad, and my marriage will be undefeatable! Well, fams, keep praying for me!

Well, good things that happened this week - our investigator Lilia Pacheco is progessing greatly! She goes to church every Sunday, she enjoys the lessons, and now we are teaching her granddaughter that lives with her - Diana. Diana is almost 18 and has a very young baby named Malena. She's not married, and the baby's father lives far away. She is also enthusiastic about the lessons and Diana and Lilia both went to a FHE that we invited them too. Diana didn't go to church this past Sunday because she was up much of the night taking care of the baby and couldn't wake up for church at 8am. But she likes to learn about the gospel and has great potential. We extended the goal of a baptismal date for them on the 15th of October. I hope all goes well! I enjoy teaching them and I know that the fulness of the everlasting gospel can bless them greatly! Our other investigators are progressing more slowly, and we are still waiting to see what happens with them. I pray for all of them often, and I invite you all to pray for the people of Bucaramanga, Colombia as well!

Elder Bogdan