Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Letter from the Mission Home

Dear Missionary Family,

Your missionary arrived safely in his new area and is adjusting to mission life. We are excited to have these fine new missionaries here in the Colombia Bogotá North Mission.  They are excited and enthusiastic and ready to work hard.

Preparation Days for your missionary are on Wednesdays and you should expect email on that day weekly. We suggest that you email him weekly on the email account that he has.  It is quick and reliable. takes quite awhile to reach us as it has to go through the pouch.  In Colombia there is no government postal service.  Everything is delivered by courier.  We have very good success getting packages and mail here.  You may use the US Post Office for mail and packages, but try to keep the boxes under 4 lbs.  Anything over 4 lbs. is charged a customs tariff when it arrives in Colombia.  This charge is assessed to your missionary.  If you do choose to send a heavier package, you might want to consider DHL or UPS.  The office address is listed below and all mail should be sent there.

Bogotá is a very large city with 9 million people.  We have five zones in Bogotá and four zones in the outlying areas of the mission.  The water in Bogotá is safe to drink without filters.  In the outlying areas we encourage all missionaries to use their special filters or bottled water.  Colombia has many fresh fruits and vegetables and your missionary will enjoy the food here.

We know that the Lord has called your son to serve in the precise place where he is supposed to be, and as he dedicates his service unto the Lord and the wonderful people of Colombia, He will bless your missionary and your family. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me.  You may also want to check out the mission blog which can be found at for more information about our mission.

Sister Hacking
Colombia Bogotá North Mission

Thursday, March 24, 2011

¡Bogdan in Bogota!

¡¿Q'hubo mi familia?!
So I'm finally in Colombia! It's been crazy cool, and a little strange to comprehend, but I'm not worried. Except for the fact that it took me a while to figure out how to get all the punctuation right on this keyboard. So I got to Bogota Tuesday night, where one of the Assistants to the President (AP) was waiting for us. His name is Elder Huaita and he is cien por ciento a stud! He's from Lima, Peru too! Actually, there are a LOT of Elders in our mission from Peru! The other AP's name is Elder Chacon and he's from Peru also (Trujillo)! You know who he reminds me of? Nate Morris! He acts like him and looks exactly like him except shorter and with darker skin. It's NUTS!
So Tuesday night we went to the mission home, which is right next to the Bogota Temple! It's beautiful, and big too! It's got a bunch of exotic looking plants around it. So we spent the night there, and the next morning we went to the mission president's house. Pres. and Sister Hacking are way nice, and they fed us breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, I got to try a new fruit called patilla, and it's really good, but we could only eat half of it because it's a natural laxative. One of the Elders in our group of 5 made the mistake of eating a whole one, and needless to say, he was in the bathroom for the first 30 mins of lunch. For lunch, we had this good soup with mayorza (?), which is some soft corn with bigger kernels. I think we tried some of it when we went to Peru. I also tried a fruit called granadia. The inside is filled with seeds that you eat, kinda like pomegranate. The texture and feel of it is kinda gross - it feels like you're eating snot with some crunchy bugs. But it didn't taste bad!
While we were at the President's house, he told us what area we were going to be teaching in and who our companion would be. So now I'm having my first day in.... BOGOTA! Yep, I'm staying in the city. Which is kinda cool because there are lots of people to teach, the weather is constantly 55 - 70°F (it rains a bit though), and I can drink the water here! Bogota takes pride in having some of the cleanest water in the world. But if I ever leave Bogota, I have to filter or boil my water. My area is called Alejandria, and it's actually been closed for the past year, so my companion and I have a lot of work to be done, and we're gonna start off by getting to know the bishop, ward mission leader, and members in the ward, and asking them for referrals. Oh, and my companion's name is Elder Velasquez and he's from Cusco, Peru! He's 22, he's been on his mission for 8 months, and he's short. But he's nice, and he doesn't know any English really! Awesome! And everybody's new to the area, so nobody knows their way around. It's just Elder Velasquez, me, and two sets of sisters here in Alejandria. My apartment is decently small, but we have hot water, so that's a plus. Well, this week is gonna be challenging, but I will do my best to rise to the challenge! Pray for me a lot please! I'm gonna need it. And heads up, pretty soon I'll probably be getting sick. That's what the president said. Even Elders from other countries in South America get sick at first. So I'm not looking forward to that....


Que tal mis chinos?

Hola mi familia? Como les va? (is that right?)
I'm leaving for Colombia in exactly a week from today! Bien chevere, no? Haha, I've already learned a lot of Spanish slang phrases from some of the Colombian teachers here at the MTC. Well, I won't be writing next Tuesday since I'll be flying, but I'm allowed to call family that day! So next Tuesday, march 22nd, if you get a phone call from a random number, most likely between 1:30pm and 3:30pm Texas time, it's probably me! Everybody remind me of their phone numbers! I know mom's ends in 21 and Lisette's ends in 17, but I always get all the other numbers mixed up.
So my spiritual message this week is about prayer. Prayer is what allows us to develop a near and dear relationship with God, and it is so important in finding out that the Church of Jesus Christ is true. I learned that when we are teaching the Gospel to someone, the biggest step towards baptism that the person will make is when they begin to pray on their own. For someone to grow to know that the Book of Mormon is true, they must read AND pray. Just reading is not enough. As we pray, we get to know God better, and then we learn to trust Him more. Because prayer is so important, it makes sense that the devil will try his hardest to get people from having meaningful prayers. He doesn't want ppl expressing their feelings and concerns to God, he doesn't want people repenting, he doesn't want us receiving revelation, and he doesn't want us receiving comfort either. He wants us to be miserable like he is. So don't let Satan keep you from praying!
Bye! I love you all more than you know! Well maybe you do know.. bye!

-Elder Bogdan
P.S. I got the address for my mission office in Colombia, where people can send letters or packages.  Here's the mission office address:
Colombia Bogota Norte Mision Office
Calle 72 #10-07, Oficina 1001
Edificio Liberty Seguros
Bogota, Cundinamarca
Mail is hard to get and letters will also take a while to arrive, but that's the address nonetheless. Packages that are sent from the USA are expensive and additional customs charges will be forwarded to my missionary account. If someone wants to mail me a package, try to keep the weight below 4 lbs. and I will not receive extra charges. You can mail through the USPS or UPS. Heavier packages should be sent through DHL, but I will still receive a customs charge that is taken out of my monthly allowance.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mi familia es chevere!

!Hola Familia! Como le van?
This week has been interesting. The week started off really good and I was excited and pumped and working hard! My companion and I taught a really good lesson to a pretend investigator. The Spirit was very present. I wasn't nervous or worried about my Spanish, I was able to focus on the guy we were teaching and feel God's love for him, and I was able to know what he needed to hear through God's help. But then after that, I started finding myself unwilling to work as hard and becoming annoyed at certain things. I didn't feel like I was using my time wisely, and I know Satan was trying to discourage me and keep me from working my hardest. But I've been praying for help to conquer Satan and I know that God helps all of His children, and He will help His missionaries. And these past two days, I have just heard and seen a lot of things that have really strengthened and inspired me.
Regardless, I have learned a lot this week that I want to share with my wonderful family! First, I learned how important it is to invite people to Church and what a huge impact that has on people in bringing them closer to Christ and helping them gain a testimony of this Gospel. When people come to church, they notice how happy the members are, how wonderful the message is, they feel a desire to become part of the ward and share in the happiness, and they can feel the Spirit so strong at church. I also learned that we should never be ashamed to testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. We should never be ashamed of the gospel in general (Romans 1:16), but especially we shouldn't be afraid to share about the Restoration of the Gospel through Joseph. I have taught plenty of lessons to people, and I can feel the Spirit the strongest when we tell the story of the First Vision, and I know that the people I am teaching feel the Spirit strongly at that part too, even if they are already members and they're just acting like investigators.
Also, I learned that perfection does not come 100 years from now. Often we think that we are so far from being perfect and becoming like God, but perfection is a "now" event. It comes TODAY as we join ourselves to Christ and unite our will with His. When we as imperfect ppl unite ourselves with the infinitely perfect Christ, we are made perfect. There is no other name or means by which man can be saved save through Jesus Christ - through His suffering, death, and resurrection. To become perfect, we must utilize the Atonement in our lives EVERY DAY. This means we must repent DAILY, which I know I have been guilty of not doing plenty of times. But now I am repenting daily and I know that the Spirit will be more present with me if I keep it up. The Atonement is real. It is amazing. It is what gives us happiness and hope. The MTC President, Pres. Brown said that if you are ever having a bad day and feeling down, study the Atonement of Jesus Christ and you will feel better!
Ok, so somehow I did somehow I screwed up and logged out and I ended up losing 5 mins of my time to write letters, so I don't really have much time to say anything else! I love you all! I want my family to know that I pray for each and everyone one of you every day! Choose the right always, and find some way to apply the things I've said. BYEEE!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Welp, today is the first day of March!
I'm supposed to leave the MTC exactly 3 weeks from today! NUTS! I'm excited to go to Colombia! I don't hate the MTC though. I don't get why so many people say they don't like it. We get to hear so many spiritual messages, we're surrounded by so many others working their hardest, and we get to hear the words of Church Leaders constantly! What's to dislike about that?? I'm gonna try and really poner las pilas these last 3 weeks here, and help my companion to work extra hard these last weeks too. He needs lots of encouragement or he'll easily get distracted and lose sight of his purpose as a missionary. But he's a fun kid:) We've had a few growing experiences as a companionship, and I foresee more to come in the next few weeks. Its funny because there are two other Elders that share a room with us. Elder Carling and Elder Weekly are really good friends, and Elder Mills and I are really good friends. Elder Mills is from Georgia and he's super short and looks like the Hulk. And he really likes Taylor Swift. Him and I like to sing together, as well as another elder, Elder Bjorling. Actually, Elder Bjorling, Hermana Romero (a sister in my district who's serving in Denver Colorado), and I sang in Sacrament Meeting, and we got a lot of compliments, so we decided to try out to sing in one of the MTC devotionals on Sunday nights, and we're probably gonna be singing sometime soon in front of the whole MTC at one of these devotionals!
Ok, now spiritual stuff. I learned this week that the term "free" agency, freedom of choice, was anything but free. Because God loved us so much, He gave us the ability to choose for ourselves, and God paid a huge price for us to have this gift. He let His children have agency, and using their agency, 1/3 of God's children chose not to follow him and were lost before anyone even came to live on Earth. This was a huge sacrifice made by our Heavenly Father out of love for us. In addition, after God's remaining children came to Earth, many exercised their agency wrongfully, and another huge price was paid for our mistakes here on Earth by Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary. 
Ok, so this next spiritual thought might sound kinda corny, but scientists have proven that the act of smiling itself stimulates happy chemicals in our bodies. So smile more! Ok, I have a lot more spiritual stuff to say, but I'm out of time! Bye!

Hola Familia!

Hi family!
Well, it's been like 5 weeks since I've been on the mission! Seems like 2 years! haha jk, the weeks progressively get faster! This past Wednesday, my friend/old roommate Brett Manning came to the MTC! Remember? He's the one that hung out with us at the Morris' house that one time and helped us replace the car tire and Mom thought he was cute and wanted to hook him up with Lisette? Haha it was way cool to see him! This week has once again been SUPER spiritual! This past Sunday, we had a Musical Fireside that was really cool! A lot of people went up to the microphone and said what their favorite hymn was and why it was their favorite, and then we would sing the hymns! It was a lot like this one sacrament meeting I went to once with Lisette. And at the end, we sang this really cool version of "Called to Serve" and by the end of the song, we were all standing and singing as loud as we could. The Spirit was so strong! I love serving a mission! It is such an amazing and growing experience. We listened to a talk by Elder Holland and he said that his mission meant EVERYTHING to him, and he wants it to mean the same thing to us too. He said that every single blessing in his life has come as a result of his mission. We hear so often in the MTC about the blessings that will come that we can't quite picture yet. Our efforts will not only bless families of those who hear our message for generations to come, it will bless our own families! There's so many blessings that come from simply being obedient, and we can't even comprehend a small portion of those blessings. So when times seem hard, and being obedient seems like it's not paying off, keep having hope, because we really can't even imagine the things God has in store for us!
This week some good friends of mine here left for their missions! They were already fluent in Spanish, so they only had to stay here for 3 weeks. They were just some really goofy, friendly people. But the 12 missionaries in my district know how to have fun too. We're all pretty goofy, but spiritual too. When we don't talk in Spanish, we talk in English with British accents! It's hilarious! And Travis, sometimes I do my Dobby voice (from Harry Potter) and it's a favorite of everyone in my district! Also, Elder Mills, one of my roommates but not my companion, and I sometimes sing Saturday's Warrior songs. We've gotten them stuck in everyone's heads, and they hate us for it, but they actually like us. I think. I hope. Oh, and we went to the temple the other day and it was snowing, so we made a snowman outside and took pictures of us sitting on a bench next to the snow man and teaching it a lesson, haha! The pictures I have of it are hilarious! I'm not able to hook up my camera to the computers here at the MTC, so I cant email the pictures, but maybe I'll mail some pictures out to yall.
Gotta go! Bye!