Thursday, August 11, 2011

Latino Word of the Week: ''July'', as in ''Why do july to me so much?''

Latino Word of the Week: ''July'', as in ''Why do july to me so much?''

Querida familia,

Hey guys! I just wanna tell y'all about 3 cool things that happened this week:

1. You're probably wondering what I did this 4th of July. Well first of all, I didn't set off any fireworks. Y'all are probably thinking, ''Elder Bogdan, julyer, of course you set off fireworks!'' But you'd be mistaken, because the fact of the matter is that I didn't set off any fireworks. I did see a couple as we were walking home to our apartment in the night. Now y'all are probably thinking, ''Elder Bogdan, why do july so much? They don't celebrate the 4th of July in Colombia!'' But once again, you'd be mistaken. Because the fact of the matter is, this year they DID celebrate the 4th of July in Colombia. Why? Good question. Monday was a Catholic Holiday for some saint, so people were off work and the kids didn't have school. Monday night, Elder Benson (a gringo who lives in my apartment) and I decided we were gonna eat American style, so we made hamburgers! And sang American songs while making them. And a member had some root beer and brought it to our house, along with ice cream, and we had root beer floats! Oh man oh man, it was SOOOOO GOOOOOD (as teen girl squad says it - I think only David gets that joke...) But seriously, I didn't realize how much I missed root beer and ice cream and hamburgers. Don't get me wrong, the Colombian food is delicious, but I felt a little bit at home that night with my American food. I miss you guys! And America too! La tierra prometida:) What did all of y'all do for 4th of July?! And especially what did Ben and Rascal and Tyler-poo do? And what did Copper-poo do??

2. Today my zone of 9 missionaries went to a water fall in a city called Pie de Cuesta. It was big and awesome and we took some really cool pictures! But something even more exciting happened. Kinda miraculous actually. I was walking on a mountainside at the edge of a cliff, above a river on our way to the waterfall. My shoes were already wet, and the ground was wet too, and I slipped. And fell 30 feet or more down the cliff! Well, I more of slid down the cliff. But it wasn't as nuts as it sounds. There was mud and soft grass as I was falling and so I didn't get hurt. I remember trying to grab some grass as I was falling and it didn't work. I remember falling towards the river at the bottom and seeing big rocks, and I remember thinking, ''Shoot, I can't let myself crash into those rocks. If my head hits the rocks that will be REALLY BAD.'' At last, my fall stopped as I landed in the river, and I didn't hit any rocks or anything. I didn't break any bones, or even bleed much. I just have some scratches on one of my arms and a little bruise on my hip. I am so glad that we started our activity today with a prayer, and that Heavenly Father was protecting me. And I know he's protected me many times so far in my mission. Honestly, that had the possibility of turning out really bad, and I am so grateful to Heavenly Father that he has allowed me to continue my mission as if nothing happened:)

3. This week we had a zone conference of missionaries with our mission president. We learned a lot and did a lot of role-playing to practice our teaching. My favorite part was at the end, when we listened to a talk from the apostle Jeffrey R. Holland. He gave a POWERFUL message to missionaries in the MTC, and as we were listening to it, I felt the spirit so strong. My favorite part was when he talked about the story of the apostle Peter. Christ first found Peter fishing, and Peter wasn't having success in catching fish. Jesus told him to cast his net on the opposite side, and suddenly the net was filled with fish. The apostles were dumbfounded and astonished at this incident, and that is when Christ invited them to follow him and be his disciples, saying, ''I will make thee fishers of men.''

After Christ's death, Peter was the new president of the Church. He wasn't a very good nor experienced leader, and didn't have Christ there to help him lead the church. The apostles asked him, ''What do we do now?'' And Peter didn't know. So everyone returned back to their normal lives, and Peter went back to fishing with some of the other apostles. As they were fishing, they were extremely sad, and they were constanly thinking about their beloved friend and Savior who had died. Their sorrow and lack of desire to fish was made shown in the fact that they didn't catch a single fish all that day. Then suddenly, the apostles see a man on the shore, who asks them how their fishing was going along. They told him that they didn't catch any fish, and the man tells them to cast their net on the opposite side of the boat. Suddenly, they catch many fishes. This had already happened once, when the apostles had first met Christ. The apostles, at that instant realized that the man on the shore was the same Christ. ''It's him!'' they thought, ''It's him!'' Their beloved friend, the person that they loved the most had returned to them in those difficult times when the apostles didn't know what to do, when they didn't feel like they could just return back to their regular lives after all that had changed when they were serving Christ. Excited beyond measure, they jumped out of the boat into the water and waded to the shore to greet their Savior.

That night, as they were eating, Christ asked Peter, '' Do you love me more than this food that we're eating?''

Peter answered yes.

Christ responded, ''Feed my sheep.''

Then again Christ asked, ''Do you love me more than all these boats and this sea and your friends here with us?''

Peter answered yes.

Christ said, ''Feed my sheep.''

Then again, ''Do you love me more than all your earthly possessions and your own self?''

Then Peter gave the response that changed the rest of his life. ''Yes Lord, I love you more than everything else.''

And Jesus responded, ''Feed my sheep. I invited you once, when we first met, to leave everything behind and serve me, and you were to be a fisher of men. When I extended that invitation, it wasn't for a few years, it was the rest of your life. When you left your job as a fisherman, it was for the rest of your life. There's no going back, Peter. You can't return back to fishing. Now you must feed my sheep. I will not extend the invitation a 4th time.''

And Peter nevermore returned to fishing mere fish, but dedicated the rest of his life to being a fisher of men. Because he loved Christ more than anything else. Forget about the stubborn Peter, or the violent Peter, or the ear-cutting Peter, or the Peter who denied Christ three times. That night is when Peter became the Great Apostle. When Peter finally realized that he loved Christ more than anything else, that is what set the tone for the rest of his life. That is what allowed him to become a great instrument in the Lord's hands.

That talk really inspired me, and motivated me. The mission is hard. Really hard. There are a lot of things in my new area that I find discouraging. Sometimes I lose my bright positive attitude, and I found myself needing more motivation. I realized that I, like Peter, love Christ more than anything else. I miss home at times, I miss my friends at times, I miss being able to celebrate the 4th of July, I miss hamburgers and root beer and ice cream, I miss Copper, I miss listening to music, and playing instruments, and watching movies, and most of all, I miss my family. But I love Christ more than all of those things. So I'm willing to give up those things. There's no going back. I can't return back to a life of comfort and luxury. And the rest of my life will never be the same. Because a mission changes one's life drastically. And so now I must feed the Lord's sheep. That was the Lord's call to me. Like Peter, I was to leave everything behind and follow Christ, being a fisher of men. That is the sacrifice I have to do, and it is nothing compared to Christ's sacrifice.

I love all of you, and I love my Savior more than anything else. I am willing to sacrifice these two years. We are all faced with decisions we have to make. We want some things, but the Lord calls us to give up those things and to do his will. It's not about what we want but what the Lord wants. So self evaluate: We all have things that we do, pleasures that we have, that we know we should give up, things that we know the Lord is not in agreement with in our lives, things that we know we need to change. Do we love Christ more than anything else? Can we trust in the Lord and finally give up that bad habit, or that bad TV show, or that bad music, etc?

I hope you all are doing great! Please keep writing me! Know that I love you all very much, and that I have sacrificed time with y'all these two years because I love Christ, and also because I love you guys too.

Be good,
Elder Bogdan

{written July 6, 2011}

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