Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Does she looked entertained or annoyed?
The first update from Elder Colvin in Chile was a bit disjointed, so I will attempt to summarize for him.   The flight was uneventful with the exception that his carry on bag was over weight and he had to pay overage fees on it. (who weighs a carry on bag?) But at least all of his luggage made it there and they actually arrived early at the mission office.  He did mention that he tried and failed to place a Book of Mormon in the airport. He took several pictures on the bus ride to the mission office.

      The president, President Cook, planned a great welcome/training meeting for the 16 arriving elders and 1 sister. Elder Colvin was blown away by his well organized, enthusiastic, spiritual, personable President.  He said, "basically he is the bomb!"  We are equally if not more impressed especially when we received the weekly newsletter in our email today.  WOW! This president is amazing.  We got to read his message to the missionaries, spotlights on a few of the missionaries, a conversion story, photos and description of a community service project that the mission work on, and a little blurb about the incoming and outgoing missionaries.  It was really informative and had a great calming affect on us.  Elder Colvin was assigned to an American companion, Elder Soulier from Colorado.  He is very impressed with his companion who he describes as "tall, smart, exceptionally kind, and very dedicated to the work."
      Some of the rules that he mentioned includes that he gets 1 1/2 hours to email on Wednesdays, he will be given a DVD player to show movies to investigators, he is allowed to look at his missionary siblings blogs on his p-day so that he can keep up with them. In his mission, the workday starts at 7:30 and ends at 11:30. (this is thrilling news for him since this matches his normal schedule.)  Another great thing is that if we ask permission we can travel within one hour of our mission boundaries. 

      He loves Santiago already even though the Spanish in Chile is nothing like he learned in the CCM in Mexico.  He thinks that he can figure out how to drop the "s" sound within a couple of weeks. He says that so far he does not feel any culture shock.  The city is pretty modern and western with the exception that houses are poorly heated. He is grateful for his coat!  His first day there involved 40 hours of work with only a 3 hour power nap on a plane. He was thrilled to have his first package from home waiting for him when he arrived especially because it was full of sugar that helped him survive his first day. 
     His housing situation is comfortable despite the fact that they do not have closets.  He fried his alarm clock and is relying on his little cheap phone to wake him up in the morning. He says that he is "totally fine except a fence attacked my face today."  There are no other details about that, so we will just have to wait another week to learn about that story. 
Elder Colvin said that this picture was taken right after arriving and before he had a chance to put everything away. Yeah...that's his story.  I just hope his companion is a patient guy.
September 23, 2014
         Today was crazy!  After a long 40 hours of traveling and teaching, I am beat!  The people here are great and my trainer, Elder Soulier, is awesome.  After tons of meetings, he and I changed and went tracting.  It was a tad cold, but one sweater solved the problem.  After lots of meeings I feel full of excitement, but I don’t understand Chileans.  There was on particularly long-winded man who was straight up unintelligible. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


We received an email from Levi's mission president today.  He has a companion from Fort Collins, Colorado named Elder Soulier.  It was a very detailed and encouraging letter that included this picture:
President and Sister Cook with Elder Colvin

Some last minute notes before I depart the CCM

I am packed and ready to go, even though I don't leave for another day an a half.  I wanted to make sure to be able to fit everything in without going overweight.  I think that I am barely going to make it if I pack my coat pockets full of books and pamphlets.  YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW EXCITED I AM no joke its absured!!!

I was able to play a piano solo in the departing farewell. I played the same piece that Sawyer played an my farewell, "God Be With You Til We Meet Again/He is Risen"  It went well.  I realized how blessed I have been to have the opportunity to play while in the CCM.  I performed 3 solos and accompanied 3 other times which translates into practice time on the piano which translates into private time away from the crowds of people.  I think that my music saved my sanity.  It made me reflect back on the blessing that my stake president gave me when he blessed me to use my musical gifts as often as possible.

I leave the CCM late Monday afternoon and arrive early in the morning on Tuesday.  I suppose that we are destined to a full day of training after we arrive.  Then I get another p-day on Wednesday.

The LAST full day here at the CCM was overall not a bad day.  I gave a talk in sacrament meeting and I was able to do it without using notes.  It was really cool because at the end, I felt myself saying words in espanol and not even having to think and translate them.  I have felt blessed with the gift of tongues in my speaking, but I need to work even harder!  The think tht I want more than anything else is to see the attributes of Christ become part of who I am.  Since today was Sunday, I don’t really have anything to share others than the chocolate covered ice cream bars are DIVINE here in Mexico.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Just a little LOCO.

September 9, 2014
New Haircuts - CCM style
         I must admit that I was a little disappointed to not be able to connect with any of my family members this p-day.  I sent things for them to read early in the morning and didn’t have any responses by the time that I checked in later that day.  I was also a disappointed to find out that my mission president changed our p-day to Wednesday so that we could experience all the stuff that is normally closed on Mondays.  I think that it is going to be great to do interesting things on Wednesday, but this means that I will never be able to communicate live on email with Garrison and Taylor until they complete their missions.  That is pretty sad to me, but I will just have to get over it. 
         The fireside tonight was a missionary video of Elder Holland and for the first time, he wasn’t so serious/scary to me.  I did not know he was as funny as he is!  My 2 favorite parts were: 1) when he said that everything he cherishes in this life comes from the gospel and 2) the mission is MORE like real/eternal life that “real life” is.  I agree with both of those statements.  Everything I love most (my Savior, my testimony, my family) comes from the gospel and the reason that this is more like real is because this life is the time for us to prepare to meet God which is what we concentrate 100% on while serving a mission.
         I have already developed a great love for the people of Latin America.  I saw a latino playing on the piano that I wanted to practice on.  I went in and tried my best to talk to him.  It worked okay and I just sat quietly and listened to him try his best to play some hymns.  It was a very spiritual experience for me and it made me think that if I try my very hardest to do what I can on my mission, then I will be able to have the spirit with me like this brother had even with such a simple skill and message.

September 10, 2014
         Okay…..the next 12 days here are going to be called “operation hasta el fin”  Things are getting pretty monotonous and I find myself living for gym time. 

Saying goodbye to a district in my zone...I will miss them!
September 11, 2014
         Today I had no issues other than sheer boredom.  Hour after monotonous hour of reviewing and drilling is getting to me, combined with the overwhelming quantity of Gringo-ness, is really getting to me.  I am sad to say goodbye to one of the other districts in our zone.  Elder Bolingbroke is the funniest guy.  We have had some fun times playing volleyball together.  We only got to see them in gym time, which means that I probably won’t get to see them again before Chile!

September 12, 2014
         Today was an off day for espanol y las reglas con tanto. There’s a rule that we can’t spend personal study time in our casas and I understand that is so that people don’t sleep through personal study time.  But let me tell you, plenty of sleep is happening in the classrooms.  I really wish that I could have more space and less people around me all of the time.

September 13, 2014
Uhh---his mother does not
         I must admit that I am hating being cooped up with 11 other people ALL of the time.  It is overwhelming. I practically live for the teaching moments where it is just my companion, the investigator, and me.  I honestly do not know how I am going to get through the last week here.  The other ridiculous thing is that I am ridiculously jealous of the packages that other missionaries are getting.  They have dear elder here (something which my family did not know about until just now) and some people get letters and packages weekly.  The new Hermana just flaunts her many packages and annoys everyone.
Any diversion is a welcome diversion!
Pooring rain in Mexico
September 14, 2014
         Sunday, JOY! Seriously, it is the best day of the week because it is different from the other days.  I talked to our gringo branch president about some of my frustrations and he really helped me.
September 15, 2014
         Today was actually fun.  It was Mexican Independence Day (technically that is tomorrow) and we were able to celebrate wth “Mexican night”. It was awesome.  They had a dance group come in and perform forus and I loved the music and dance.  I took a ton of short little videos for my family to see.  It is interesting how much I appreciate things like this after having been kept from it for so long.        
I think this is a fruit loop pizza??
September 16, 2014
         We get to go to the temple today…just to the visitors center because the actual temple is closed.  Still, I am really looking forward to that break in the routine.  I found out that I will be flying to Chile on the 22nd at 4 pm.  I am not sure how communication will work out, whether or not we will be able to email prior to our departure, or in transit, or when we arrive.  I am just really excited that the count down is less than a week away.
 Mexico City Temple
My District at the templo

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Missing my bro - Elder Colvin 1.0

Elder Sandberg
Elder Child as he is getting ready to leave for the field!
This is a great elder and a good friend!
September 2, 2014
            We had a talk on being unified and how even thoughts of contention drive away the spirit.  I know that to be true but at times it is hard to resist my natural urge towards aggression.  I hate my nature right now and I really want to change it, but it is so hard!  I have made friends with a couple of the other elders in our zone and they have helped me.               
            Today was a music filled fun fest.  I have been practicing for a solo accompaniment and this evening I accompanied the coir with music that I received one week ago.  It was a pretty tough arrangement, but I did surprisingly well.  I love having musical challenges as an outlet for my pent up emotions.

September 3, 2014
            I have decided that Latinos are my favorite people!  Their personalities really resonate with me.  I was in the gym today when a couple of Latin elders came in and I thoroughly enjoyed trying to communicate with them and to try to get them to do some exercises with me.  One of the guys who was there was a gymnast and he was ridiculously strong.  I kept up with him until he started working on flexibility and flips!
            All-in-all it was one of the better days.  The lessons are getting easier, but the language is still pretty tough.  One of the other elders, who has the patience of a saint, lost his temper today with his companions. 
My teacher drew this picture of me in class...haha!

September 4, 2014
            It rains so hard here almost every day.  I wish that I could take pictures of the flooded streets so that you could see it.  Sadly, it almost never rains on P-day.  Today we actually taught real people on the street. It was crazy interesting.  The lady that we taught kept correcting our grammar.  I am super excited for the next time because we get to teach a LEGIT investigator. 

September 5, 2014
            Nothing to report today except we got a new sister who seems really YOUNG.
            Elder J. is going to write a book and he is telling me about it right now…and it sounds crazy good, so I am going to talk to him right now.
Look at the size of the months here!

September 6, 2014
            Sisters can be cranky and emotional.  Having grown up with them, I know the drill.  We have a trio of sisters right now and the teachers decided to pull a prank on them by telling them that one of them would be transferred. The two sisters who have been together since the beginning were told that they were going to be split up.  After the tears started to flow, the teachers admitted it was a joke.  The elders just busted up, but the sisters weren’t too thrilled. 

Elder G. Colvin
September 7,  2014
            Today was fast Sunday and it was both horrible and amazing at the same time.  It actually wasn’t hard for me to fast, but emotionally I was pretty sensitive especially during the testimony meeting.  I was told that I would miss Garrison less when I was out here, but I can honestly say that I miss him more than ever.  I was looking at my nametag and was overwhelmed by feeling of sadness about not being able to see my brother or talk to him.  He is one of the biggest reasons that I am out here.  Even in his worst times in life, he was a better man than me in his humility and his patience.  He is my best friend and role model.  I miss my Dad and I worry about him even though I have been given an assurance that he will be okay during my mission.  I love my whole family and I just want us to be together again. Knowing that it will be a long time before that happens is hard for me.  It also really hurts me to see my sister Bailey in the state that she is in right now.  I find comfort in the scripture from 2 Nephi 1:15 that says, “ But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.”  I can feel the love of the Savior lifting me up when I am discouraged, comforting me in times of sorrow, and helping me to overcome my weaknesses.  I have been blessed this week with a greater measure of patience.

I am looking forward to skyping with everyone at Christmas time already! I think that the time will go pretty fast with Dad’s transplant and all.  I want you to send me pictures and keep me updated on the transplant process. It may be hard for me to see, but I will fell left out of the loop without it.  I don’t want you guys to keep information back from me thinking that you are protecting me.  I will do better if I know that you are being open and honest with me.  I know that Dad is super tough and that he will come through it all right.  
Look at those cliffs...I am missing my climbing gear!

I love you guys a ton and I will work hard for you!  

September 8, 2014
         P-day!!!! I am going to take a few pictures so that I can send them home.  

Elder Levi Colvin

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

More CCM

August 25, 2014

            I decided to write the elder that I lost my temper with an apology.  I felt really badly for losing my temper.  Well he hasn’t said a word to me since….maybe that is a good thing because at least he is not being sarcastic and rude anymore. As our district leader, I expected he would be more loving and forgiving.

Look Ma, I made my bed and cleaned up my area.
August 26, 2014

            Today was a much better p-day. I was able to write little notes to different people and then take pictures of them  and then email the pictures to them.  It saves a bunch of time on the computer. I really enjoyed it.  It feels oddly good to receive emails from home.  I hope that when I am in the field, I can have P-day on the same day as Taylor and Garrison so that I can keep in touch at least a little bit. 

            I am also really hoping and praying that I will be able to touch people’s lives.  We had a good fireside today and for the first time in a while I felt at peace.  Afterwards I bore my testimony to the district and it was good. 

My favorite teacher, Hermano Martinez.  We only had him for 3 days.
August 27, 2014

            Today we had such a good lesson! We literally taught nothing that we planned. Our “new” investigator agreed to be baptized after the lesson about the priesthood and prophets.

            Side note: It is hard for me to live with guys who would rather play ping-pong than exercise.  I have so much pent up energy that I can’t get rid of.  Unfortunately I have gained weight just sitting around.  I am going to have to cut back on the intake because there is nothing that I can do about the output.

            I have no idea how I am going to get all the stuff that they are giving us down to Chile without going overweight on my bags. 

August 28, 2014

            Today gave me an idea of how hard the rest of the CCM is going to be.  As Taylor would say, “I need ME time.” (But then again for the next two years it is the Lord's time.)  I want to be productive all the time and half of the time, our activities do absolutely nothing for our progression.  During those hours, when there is a LOT of messing around, I wish that I could work out or practice the piano.  I hope to get over the hump.  Much of the time that we spent is not open for discussion…we do what we are told. So today I played soccer, against my better judgement.  It was in a cage on concrete ground, I don’t need to tell you anymore about how well that worked…  I am okay Mom, but you were 100% correct and I won’t be doing that again if I can help it.

August 29, 2014

            Today was so much better than yesterday.  I was able to go to the gym and I blew of all my excess energy so I actually got along better with everyone.  I don’t know why  there are so many cute hermanas in the mission field.  I have caught myself checking them out on more than one occasion and I have to remind myself that I am an elder now. It is VERY difficult when they pair you with a sister missionary to work on something and it is just the two of you…it is unfair!  I haven’t flirted with a girl in a month and it is really hard.  There are times when I have to close my eyes and pray!!   : [

August 30, 2014

            Today was just another day.  I am starting to get bored with the routine.  The days crawl and the time blurs together.  There are times that I almost want to go home just so that I can have stuff to do.  I am not super serious Mom, but the CCM is monotonous. 

            I do like speaking in Spanish, but we are not learning as fast as I thought that we would.  Also, my district is still not speaking in Spanish all of the time like I thought that we would be doing by now. I do enjoy trying to converse with the teachers who are all natives.

            On the bright side, I get to practice piano every other day.  I am accompanying the choir, and accompanying soloist, and I also get to play at the closing devotional – “God be with you til we meet again/He is Risen” medley.  I LOVE playing so much.  We are not aloud to listen to any music at all in the CCM, so playing the piano is my connection to music. 

August 31, 2014

            We listened to a taped address given by Richard G. Scott and I feel really badly about the fact that I could not stay awake.  I played with the choir and it was tough, but I loved it.  I love hearing the music so much.

September 1, 2014

            Uggh, I have a long ways to go to humble myself. I let myself get bothered by the hypocrisy and self righteousness in our little district and zone.  For example, one of our zone leaders will randomly steal nametags because he thinks it is funny, and then he will turn right around and chew out someone (including me) for the most ridiculous things.  I have to learn to control my temper more for sure.  I am working on Uncle Mark’s advice and just trying to keep my head down and my mouth shut.  I am able to pray and get over my issues enough to teach with the Spirit.  My language is improving every day and I wish that I could be more helpful to my companion. He is a pretty good guy.  He is from Idaho and he is a very good listener.  He listens to me even when I am wrong.  You can tell that he doesn’t agree, or that he doesn’t care, but at least he will listen and that is appreciated.  I can definitely learn form him.  I recognize that there are many ways that I am not a good missionary, but I am willing to work on it. I am hoping that I can change to be a better person without losing the sense of my individuality.