Monday, December 28, 2015


So  Navidad was good, really just a focus change. We focused a lot more on Jesus Christ and although we passed it very normally, I never felt that I was missing out on anything because we were focusing on the birth of Jesus Christ and sharing that a good bit.

Also, it was great talking with the party on Wednesday, and Lily makes me laugh still. It's great to see you're all alright, and now I can sing that song "I'll be home for Christmas." I don't think I'll actually sing it much, but it's now legal.

This season of New Year's is interesting. As people welcome 2016 with parties and drunkeness, their bad decisions the half of which they won't remember clearly, and looking back at the things they wanted to do but for lack of something they never achieved, they'll be making goals for the coming year. Honestly, it's a hard-skulled bobada [silliness] and it repeats itself on a yearly basis, without failing for an award-winning streak. How about at least a couple of us do something different with our goals and instead of making a goal without a plan, figure out the reason for failing in 2015 and make our goal to fix that specific thing and therefore not fail in 2016. A definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result." The insanity of the human race is that we do the same thing year to year and expect that "this time it'll be different" and when it isn't, say it the next time and expecting that we have reason [Editor's note: tenemos razón is translated literally as "we have reason" but colloquially it is "we are right"]. Friends, it'll only be different if you actually do something different. How about let's not fail in 2016, sino [rather] acheive the things we've been waiting for for years. If we do it with a diligent or constant effort, trusting in the supporting arm of Him of whom we celebrate his birthday, this time it'll be different.

As Talon said, and as I say to missionaries and leaders in the mission, "Find out what doesn't work and don't do it."

Prospero 2016,
Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, December 14, 2015


So like 4 months ago the mission closed a zone in Chocó for a couple reasons unrelated with the missionaries and so there aren´t missionaries there. It´s super far and super poor and really underdeveloped. Hermana Calderón called me on Saturday to tell me that I would be going with Élder Peña (another LZ in Pereira) to open Chocó again. She passed me to Élder Allen the Sec Ejecutivo to give me all the details and stuff. I was like "what?! oh well, Élder Peña is good" and then like half an hour later Hna Calderón called to say it was a joke. Cool story.

But this week is cambios and I´m still going to be in Armenia, but Élder Velázquez se va a [is leaving to] Montería. My new comp is Élder Canavese who is currently LD in Armenia, but starting tomorrow I´m training him as a new LZ in propia [our own] Armenia. Also, big news is that the area of Álamos 2 is opening, and so now I´m in Álamos 1; they split our area in two. Also, Élder Pezo who I trained in Cereté is coming to the zone. So last cambio came 5 new kids to the zone from the CCM, this time 2, so we have a total of 7 trainers in the zone, but there´s only 10 companionships.

This week Élder Velázquez and I fasted a couple times. We´re trying to focus on how we can better deserve God´s hand in the zone and the area. We´re praying more, fasting more, and esforzando a [trying to] listen to the Spirit more. We knew ahead of time that the new missionaries would be coming to Álamos, so we took a bit of time contacting in Álamos 2 to make sure they had work when they get on Wednesday. Also, we´ve been looking for a new home, and we found one this week. We did the whole process relying a lot in the Spirit, and we found an apartment that is of a less active, and there´s a couple advantages addicionales [additional] that make stuff better. 

Made me laugh that y´all finally got to go to Amahl and the Night Visitors and I can totally see Dad quoting stuff like "licorice...try some!" I think the reading gene must run in the family with Lily now reading a bunch and I remember Sierra reading a bunch and I remember reading a bunch...also I´m impressed with Lily´s handstand! Also, Lily is starting to look way like Sierra which I don´t remember from before. Also, cool new Stake Presidency.

Pte Calderón came and everyone (including us) was thinking he was going to call a new District Presidency and ended up only calling a new counselor. The Pte, Pte Londoño has a real long time as District Pte and Pte Calderón said only "Presidente Londoño se queda hasta 2049" [will remain until 2049] and everyone thought it was funny but he might have been serious. 

Hey I found out last week that Hna Calderón really likes Doctor fact. 

Élder Hicken

Monday, December 7, 2015


This week wasn´t so crazy sino tough. I´m starting to understand why. The good side is that to maybe soften the blow of an unproductive week Élder Velázquez and I have recieved an amount of praises from different sources. It came as a surprise, with local leaders saying that they´ve never seen such a great group of missioneros en Armenia, that the APs and Pte never have to worry about Armenia, that they feel great amounts of trust in us, even to the point that another zone called us yesterday for pointers because the APs had told them to call us because we are doing well.

It's been teaching me alot how people don´t see many details until they get close. I guess I´ve learned the lesson a long time ago, that if I don´t have glasses I don´t see ningun detail until I get real close. We can be doing well, but only we know the locuras that are happening and even the missionaries in our zone don´t know what´s happening in the background. That´s something that happens on every side of the spectrum. Maybe we say that someone failed for their fault, but it was for external force. It´d be like saying a wall painted itself. Remembering right now, I´ve been realizing more and more over the last couple weeks how much sense the Gospel has. Many of us think that gaining the Celestial Kingdom will be much easier than it is in reality. There´s something much bigger happening than we all think.

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

 Oil Spill

 Coca Colas forPte y Hna "papi" y "mami"

Monday, November 30, 2015

Locura [madness]

Happy Thanksgiving pues (hay que leerlo con acento Paisa) [you have to read that with a country accent]. Our Thanksgiving celebration was a Noche de Hogar [Family Home Evening] Thursday that fell through while we were there in the casa del miembro [member's house] waiting for the other family. Basically, the Pte of the Elderes just said "ah, feliz día de acción de gracias" ["Happy Thanksgiving Day"] and we ate sandwiches. It´s alright because we´ve been pretty busy hasta que también me olvidé [so much that I forgot]. 

I know that every week I keep saying this week has been super crazy but it´s because the locura [madness] isn´t ending or even slowing down, sino [rather] aumenting. Tuesday was normal, but Wednesday  we didn´t even have the opportunity to sit down and teach except for taxis because we got swamped with vueltas [rounds]. Thursday I don´t even remember, but I remember the cancelled Noche de Hogar, and the crazy coordinating to get baptismal interviews done.

Friday the Pte came for interviews but got here late and didn´t know how to get to the capilla [chapel], and the APs also got here late because their bus was under repair for a while. We didn´t even get to be there in the interviews to regulate anything ni [neither] the APs because we went  visiting every house in the zone (7) to inspeccionarlas [inspect them] and clean them (super deap cleaning) and so we did it in divisiones [splits]. I went with Elder Rojas from Bogotá. We made the hour and a half travel to Sevilla and while he interviewed the four elders there, I went with the other three inspecting and cleaning the house.  Then we made the hour and a half travel back to Armenia and there was some little kid who threw up during the ride and the bus didn´t smell so good and the window next to us didn´t open. And then the Hna [Sister Missionary] decided to not interview sino [but rather] go to the  casas de los misioneros para inspeccionarlas [missionary appartments to inspect them] and apparently she´s a perfecionista  ( not even a word) and was cleaning everything imaginable haste [even] in the nevera [fridge's] the rubber seal, how it´s got that crack? Yeah, when she went to Calarcá with Elder velazquez y Elder Opheikens the hnas there are nearly perfect and everything was 100% clean and they are also really obediente and humble, but when Hna Calderón opened the fridge and pointed out the hardly dirty seal, Hna Cañas nearly threw her out the window.

Saturday, we had two baptisms and the mom of one called us like 3 hours before that she wanted to change the location of the baptism to a different capilla [chapel], and that made tons of complications with special music numbers and that there were going to be two baptisms at the same time, and that they would happened at the same time, and stuff like that, that we barely got it worked out by the time it happened, while going to a training meeting for SEI and also citas medicas [medical appointments] for a hna en la zona.

Today, we need to go to every house in the zone and paint them and also plan a couple things for Christmas, but it still feels like relaxing in contrast to last week. I hope that kind of week is normal in other zones and missions, but that´s what happened here this week. 

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Elder Velazquez and I with David and Natali Niño

Hnos Viveros Lopez then Estefhanía and Daira with us two in baptism of Estefhanía. She´s got a bathrobe and all because it´s after the baptism and she´s super skinny and so get cold and sick easily after getting wet

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bobada de Bomberos [Silly Fire]

So this week has been interesting, but in an intercambio [exchange] that we did I was with Élder Vergara from Chile (Antofagasta) and there´s a funny story to tell, hence the title. So we´re going to a cita [an appointment] and pass by the house of the family Buitrago just to say hi and ask for water. While we´re there, Alejandro notices the smell of burning and that the street and everywhere was filled with smoke. We all went outside to see what was up and saw a large amount of smoke coming from the house behind theirs. Alejandro asked for our phone to call the firemen and we went on our way to the cita. As we were subiendo the loma [coming out the chimney], we saw that all the smoke was coming out of a chimney (a small one, but still was coming out tons of smoke) and learned later that someone was just making tomales. Either way, the firemen came. We heard them from blocks away. They came with two of the big green firetrucks, two ambulances, another police car, and the local news van. The tomale lady, when she heard the sirens, turned off the oven and when they got there there was no smoke. It turned into a penosa [painful] story and also funny. The next morning when the hermana Armi Buitrago went out to buy empanadas or arepas, the lady was saying that she was making tomales last night and the neighbors called the firemen and that "sus vecinos son unos envidiosos" [her neighbors are just jealous].  We were basically dying of laughter, so short story long, she doesn´t know that the call came from our phone, and we hope it stays that way. Alejandro didn´t even pass us the reference of the firemen. 

Elder Velazquez and I have been seeing a cantidad of milagros [ton of miracles] lately that we believe are basically compensation for the time that we take out of the area to attend to the zone. Every Domingo [Sunday] for like 4 weeks, a different less-active or two has just showed up at the capilla [chapel] like, "Teach me" and we´re like "where did you come from".  Half of them we didn´t even know existed until they showed up. It´s been super crazy for the last couple weeks for that reason. It´s been really comforting to see the area growing so much, and also great to see how the animo [energy] of the people is changing as they see the difference in what is happening. The lesson this week has been: worry about where I am first and if I´m certain that I´m where I should be, everything else will be following, I´ve just got to be the example. It´s like the peak of a mountain. The peak doesn´t get to be a 14er while the rest of the mountain stays at sea level, it all grows and ningún [not a single] part can grow at a different rate as other parts.

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, November 16, 2015


Hey sorry guys for not being able to write much this week. It`s been a crazy week and a crazy pday. This week was consejo and we went to Medellin and I got my toe operated on and so now I`m using shoes and everything is awesome. Also Elder Velazquez vomited a couple times on the bus. Everything is crazy. 

I just depend on spiritual experiences because theymotivate me to do anything. After spiritual meetings, trainings, and things like that, I always feel really ready for anything. So, my invitacion this week is that you can all search spiritual experiences and be good.

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, November 9, 2015


Hey so I finished my study on the caridad [charity], and typed up my summary and attached it. It took me a bit to do, so that means that the letter won´t be very long.

This week has been way crazy though. 5 new kids came from the CCM [Missionary Training Center] and the good news is that there aren´t many problems with their llegada [arrival] still. They opened an area in the zone, which meant creating a new district, so there´s three districts now. One of the LD just got here, and he was LZ in Sincelejo, so that´s cool. Also, Élder Zuchel, who was in my district in Montería, came and is in the zone and that´s also cool.

This week, Élder Velázquez and I are traveling to Medellín for Consejo. While I´m there, I´m going to get my toe checked out. The super cool is that this month there´s a capacitacion [training] for the LDs and Hermanas Líderes the next day after our consejo. The good is that we´re going to have bomb lideres in the zone, and the bad is that the zone is going to be practically empty this week because it´s 8 hours to Medellín and so that´s two days of pure travel for each thing in Medellín. But it´ll be cool to see a couple kids who are LD in Medellín like Élder Hurtado my Padre who is LD in Montería.

Hey fam, I´ve decided with Elder Velazquez to start taking more advantage of the piano (super untuned, but piano) here in our capilla. Could you scan and send me some of my music? Like the first 16 pages of Rhapsody in Blue, my John Schmidt songs, and maybe just some others. I´m starting to forget how to play a couple of them.

Just to put something here, it cracks Velazquez and I up how the people say "ciao" here. They say it more like a question. ¿ciao?  If you want an example, ask me in the llamada in Diciembre [phone call in December].

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, November 2, 2015


Hey, party!

So Elder Velazquez and I are super pumped po'que aja [oh yeah]. So cambios are this week and we'll be sticking together which is super awesome. I think all the bad luck with my anterior [previous] companions flipped and was good luck with this one. It's been a super great cambio [transfer] and the next will be better. In the zone, they're opening another area and subsequently another district. So, we've got a new LD [district leader], Elder Canavese is from Uruguay (Montevideo) and he's going to be super great, and also Elder Menjivar from Salvador is leaving, but he's going to be LZ [Zone Leader] in Poblado, where I started my mission.

Hey, I don't know if I've mentioned it, but in my first area Envigado, there were a couple cositas [little things] (more with the oficina que mi area [office than with my area]) and now the missionaries there are sisters. Oh, also here in Armenia we're going to have 5 new missionaries from the CCM!! This next cambio is going to be the best of the best.

So last night we are teaching Estefanía, and a 13 year old girl that is now living with her member parents and really wants to get baptized. She's a riot and it's always interesting any interaction with her. But in their  house they only have two light bulbs and where we were teaching was not one of the parts with a bulb. So, we taught with the light of a flashlight. It was awesome because we're teaching Evangelio de Jesucristo [Jesus Christ's Gospel] and Velazquez used the flashlight to demonstrate the Holy Ghost and dignidad [dignity] and all that.

Oh hey, so also yesterday we're teaching some less actives and I started annoying the cat. Those who have pets know that's, like, the point of pets: bother them. This is after the prayer and so I'm bothering it and all and then it attacks my hand. I'm attaching a picture. 

Hey, to respond to your email, mom.
Halloween is más o menos [so-so] en Armenia. They do it and all, and the disfrases [costumes]  are ridiculous, way too many mice, but they do the disfrases well. But, the trick or treating isn't very strong. It was to the point we were still out visiting and the people were there. Día de los Muertos I think would be bigger in Cereté, but we don't even have a cemeterio en our area, so it's basically nothing.

Hey, but cool with that man in the ward that served in Cajamarca! Also, the humanitarian aid trips of Renen seem super cool, I would have liked to do that during high school. I'm pumped to talk to all these Spanish speaking manes when I get back. Not that I'm thinking of when I get back, just that it'll be bomb. Oh hey, and Josh is super delgado [thin] now!

It's interesting to hear your words from your aprendizaje [learning] from that book Mindset, mom. I read your consejos [advice] and then see how it ties in to the Gospel and when we teach the missionaries. 

In my personal study, I've been taking it by theme, studying one by one an atributo de Cristo [Christ's Attributes]. Since the 22nd, I've been studying Charity, and it's been awesome. To finish up, I write basically an essay on everything I've learned and right now I've written part of it. I've spent two days of study on the essay, and there's a lot left. But, I think next week I'll be able to type it up and send it out, maybe if there's anyone who wants to see it. 

To finish up, a small resumen [summary] of my studies this week:

Algo de que  me he dado cuenta es que todos los atributos de Cristo de basan sobre la caridad. Con razón Nefi y Mormón enseñan que "sin la caridad, no sois nada." Analizamos la vida del  Señor y vemos que cada acto se efectuó por la caridad. Aún si hacemos las buenas cosas, no vale nada si las hacemos faltando la caridad. Sería como yendo al cine, entrando, escogiendo bien el asiento, y dando cuenta que no hay ninguna película. Continuando a hacer las cosas sin caridad sería como ni poner la película y quedarse allí viendo la pantalla blanca. En una lección con una familia hablamos de la caridad y la hermana dijo que si hacemos algo bueno pero sin caridad, mejor dejar la cosa. Pensamiento así es equivocado y perezoso. Lo que el Señor nos pide y lo que hizo posible por la Expiación es que si hacemos cosas sin caridad, no dejamos de hacer la cosa sino nos cambiamos a nosotros para poder efectuar el acto con caridad y por medio de ello aumentar la caridad y los otros atributos. Al quejar por hacer favores pequeños o hacerlos con malas ganas e incumplidos, negamos el punto de negamos la oportunidad de crecer y aprender. Debemos buscar maneras en todas nuestras vidas en las cuales podemos mejor mostrar caridad. Si sea por unas palabras o por actos pequeños, la meta es mejorar.

[Something I have realized is that all of Christ's attributes are based upon charity.  As Nephi and Mormon taught, "Without charity, you are nothing."
Moroni 7:46-48
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.                   
As we analyze the life of the Savior, we see that each of His acts was put into effect because of charity.  Even if we do really good things, it is worth nothing if we do them without charity.  It would  be like going to the movie theater, entering, choosing the best seat, and realizing that there isn't even a movie to watch.  Continuing to do these things without charity would be like putting on the movie but still watching the blank screen.  In a lesson we had with a family we talked about charity and the hermana said that if we do something good without charity, it is better that we didn't do it at all.  Thinking this way is wrong and dangerous.  What the Savior is asking of us and what He has made possible through the Atonement is that if we do things without charity, we don't have to stop doing them all together, but rather we work to change ourselves so that we may be able to do the act with charity, and through that charity we can grow in other attributes.  To complain about doing small favors or to do them grudgingly and without feeling, we miss the point and the opportunity to learn and grow.  We should look for ways in all our lives that we can show more charity.  While it may be through simple words or small acts, the goal is to improve.
Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, October 26, 2015

Año - my year mark

Although I remembered to put that I finished an año  this week, doesn't mean it's been on my mind. Actually, I nearly forgot. I was reminded 3 times this week. But, it made me think about how I'm spending my time, and more about how I've spent my time in the mission in the past. It really is shorter than it seems.

With respect to how the area is doing, we've got a couple fechas and we've got a couple progresando. One thing I've really learned is that an area is only as pailas as the missionaries in the area. Just like Centennial was pailas [Pailas would mean something like maybe hopeless or a lost cause] until Elder Mazankowski got there, I've seen the same thing here. Envigado was pailas until my last cambio and when I left there was baptism almost every month. Here in Álamos we haven't had a convert baptism since November, but before the end of the year we are hoping for 2-5. The prejuicios [prejudices] of people really messes stuff up.

Yesterday was the elections in Colombia. Not for the President, but for governor and consejos [councils] and all that. But, we couldn't be in the streets starting after lunch and so you could say we didn't have a very productive afternoon.

Hey so update on my toe, it's the same as last week. Last Monday, the APs came to give (another) capacitación [training] about Como Apresurar la Obra de Salvación [Hastening the Work of Salvation] and found that Zona Armenia is already pro at Como Apresurar la Obe de Salvación because Elder Velazquez and I are the best, basically. But, Elder Opheikins mentioned that he had had something similar with his foot and suggested that with the next Consejo in Medellín I hightail it to Doctor Scholl's to get it checked out.
My chancleados feet

Hey, funny thing with the elections yesterday. So in our house the roof in the bedroom leaks so we have the beds in the salon [living room]. So, being bored, we were people watching for a bit and there were a group of people who got really worked up when the elections ended because they weren't able to vote and were left outside. It just made me laugh because there wasn't anything anyone could do about it, but they just wanted everyone to know they were upset. Also there was un man y una gamín (Gamín is like a hobo, but it's used more to say someone who doesn't do anything, but more often just to say like some guy, or whatever like that. I think I'm going to put more and more stuff we say in the mission because I'm getting used to it. Also 'man' is something they say here. Este man, esa man, dos manes...) on a moped pitando [whistling] and blowing some plastic trumpet for like an hour riding around the streets when elections ended and Elder Velazquez thought it was a bunch of people, but it was only two.

Hey so I lost my USB this week and it's kinda sad knowing the stuff that was on there, with the pictures and music and stuff. The spiritual side is that the week before losing it, I had the idea that I should send all the best fotos home and videos just to be sure and so I didn't lose the stuff like that. It was just following the Spirit without being very conscious of it, which is how it normally happens. 

There's actually tons of horses here, you get used to walking down the street and a horse passes you. Normally with someone and a cart, but sometimes just strolling. This park is el Parque de los Sueños and the horses just walk around trotting or running and playing. One time Elder Velazquez and I were with Alejandro Oliveros (Pte de los Elderes) And Velazquez thought he was going to get trampled and the horse almost kicked a gamín.

 Me with some horses we were walking past Friday night. 

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

And another tidbit from Kai in a separate email exchange asking for more contact lenses.  I learned that since his prescription has expired he needs to get an exam in Colombia before we can get new contacts.  Here is his response:

I expect I'll make a scare with my eyesight there in an exam like I did in Sam's Club the other time. When people here complain about their eyesight, I normally lend them my glasses and when they pull their head back and exclaim that I'm super blind, I use the opportunity to essentially tell them not to complain and get to reading the Libro de Mormón.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rescate! Rescate! Rescate! [Rescue]

So, with the theme of the title, Rescate [Rescue]!! Not sure what the missionary term is in English, or if it works the same in other missions, but this week in the zone we got 10 to cross the line from less-active to active and that´s a massive accomplishment for us. The APs nearly fainted when we passed the dato and they´re traveling here for a training and they are going to congratulate us tonight.

This week, Elder Velazquez and I had a lot of success with references. We received and contacted a total of 7 references in the week and that´s massive. And it looks like 4-5 of them have real desires to learn and be baptized. It should be a good next couple of weeks. The families we were teaching before aren´t progressing and it might be that we need to dejarles [let them go], but we´re going to give them another last chance.

Also, I am still in flippy floppies. I´m pretty sure my dedo [toe] is a lot better, and I almost made it through a whole day without dying yesterday before changing my shoes for flip flops again.

I hiked up my spirituality this week and I feel super good. I concentrated more in my prayers and study and testimony and all that and I feel more energized to do things well. I´m super tired and super exhausted, but I can tell it´s just physical. My spirit wants to keep going forward, and that´s like the only thing that keeps me going. It´s kind of a cool feeling.

Tuesday, Elder Velazquez and I did a meeting with the LDs and we send their greenie companions to contact until we finished. They came back after an hour with like 9 people and it was awesome because one of them still doesn´t speak Spanish, and the other hasn´t finished his training either, but it was just showing the energy they still show towards the work. It kinda made me feel bad because sometime I feel like I´ve gotten used to being a missionary, but they showed me that I should live everyday like I were just barely starting the mission.

Also, I´m finding it difficult to talk English because I never talk English anymore, not even to other gringos. Writing still seems fine, but I can hardly read out loud either.

Elder Velazquez is super good and I´m really blessed to have him as an example as my first LZ comp.

I'm sure there was more that I wanted to say but I already forgot.

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, October 12, 2015


This past week, we had the monthly Consejo de Líderes de Zona in Medellín where the Pte and the APs basically help us out and it´s super great. They said a bunch of cool things about running the zone, (Dad, I don´t know if over there there´s the equivalent of Como Apresurar la Obra de Salvación [Hastening the Work of Salvation) but a new version of the document came out from the area the 7.4 and we are really starting to use it in our daily work habits. I keep noticing more and more how God really does provide the way for us, but many times He even makes it obvious. If we use the tools we´ve got, I don´t know why so many people wonder how to fulfill their callings.
Velazquez sleeping on the ride to Medellín
Pte Calderon also spoke a bunch about the importance of Seminary and Institute, of the necessity that all the youth and JAS[young single adults] go, but used it in a greater example, of when we have our own kids. Basically, how are we going to hope that our kids are going to do something we neglected to do? It´s basically just saying to them that it wasn´t important to us, and it doesn´t need to matter to them either. The greatest way to teach is through example.

Proselyting has been a bit rough in Álamos because of the consejo and other errands for the zone, but we´ve got two families that we´re working really closely with right now. But, neither family came to church last week. One was traveling and the other was sick, but we´re trying to get them there. They´re both reading stuff, but only the familia Llanos Ruiz is reading the Book of Mormon, and neither of them are praying, so we´ve got a ways to go. The good news is that the reactivation in the zone is going strong.

It was cool in the Consejo to see a number of missionaries from my group there as either secretaries, zone leaders, or sister´s leaders. Of the 19 of us still in the mission, 6 of us were there, and 2 of them were my comps in the MTC (Elder Nae´ole and Elder Romeu). Elder Velazquez and I came back with a whole truckload of missionary revelations. 

The Montería crowd in the Consejo, Hna Vallejo, Hna some brazilian that was never in Monteria actually, Hna Ballesteros, E´Eno, E´Guzmán, E´Crandall, E´Hicken, E´Velazquez, E´Bagley
The Three of us from Armenia, Hna Cañas, Elder Velazquez, Elder Hicken
Those from my group in the Consejo, E´Nae´ole, E´Cruz, E´Hicken, E´Romeu, E´Peña, Hna Muñoz

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, October 5, 2015


Conference was great, but it just isn't the same in Spanish. We tried watching it in English, but we were only able to for the Priesthood session because of interenet cositas [issues] with the other 4 sessions. But, we did see the 5 sessions. It was super cool, of course hearing things I can improve upon, but also teaching and concepts to implement in lecciones [lessons] with less-actives or investigadores [investigators].

I liked what Ronald A. Rasband said Sunday Morning that aunque Dios no condena ni ama al pecado, ama al pecador igual [even though God does not condone nor love the sin, He loves the sinner just the same]
I’m confident that there is no choice, sin, or mistake that you or anyone else can make that will change His love for you or for them. That does not mean He excuses or condones sinful conduct—I’m sure He does not—but it does mean we are to reach out to our fellowman in love to invite, persuade, serve, and rescue.
Also the words of Sister Neill F.Mariott que Dios no dice 'todo saldrá bien ahora'.  [that God does not say "it will all work out now"]  
President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God. … The Lord will not forsake us.”  Our family motto doesn’t say, “It will all work out now.” It speaks of our hope in the eternal outcome—not necessarily of present results.
 Also Francisco J. Viñas' words about examining yourselves before the sacrament to repent. It was all good. Hey Mom, "ponderize" in Spanish is "meditizar".

I lied last week, there are only 16 missionaries in the zone, 4 of which are hermanas. The hermanas here are great and not so problematic. Elder Velazquez and I are really trying to motivate the zone and also the Armenia District to get this vision of a Stake here, and to double all the work we're doing.

We're focusing a lot on the 15 families list and the list of the 24 months of conversos recientes [recent converts] and directions desconocidas [unknown]. It's a bit rough here in Álamos because of all the prep and vueltas [rounds] that we've got to do, and the last cambio they kind of just left the area to die. Velazquez feels really bad about that but is really motivated to give it new life. We're putting a ton of work into it, and it's coming back to life, but there just isn't a lot of time that we have as zone leaders.

There are a couple interesting people we've met in the last bit. One is the familia Llanos Ruiz. They are actually MARRIED which is totally crazy and their names are Kerith and Ambrosio, though everyone calls him Moncho. They've got a 7 year old daughter named Valeria. They're really receptive and willing to keep commitments, that is until it comes to coming to Church. They read stuff and they pray, they just don't get to church. Moncho works every other day, So every other Sunday he works, but we're going to work on that. Also they've got this super hyper pit bull named Athena. The familia is super cool, they just aren't getting to church.

The other guy is Daniel, who's got a massive criminal background, but has a lot of desires to turn his life around (well, he already started the last time he was in jail) but he wants to do it right to help his two little daughters who are 8 and 6 years old.

Hey, how tall is Sierra in meters? There's a 10 year old daughter of the Pta of the SocSoc and she's way taller than the other girls her age, but looking at the pictures from the wedding, it seems like Sierra is pretty tall also.

And hey mom, Elder Velazquez también te manda saludos [also sends you greetings, basically saying "He says Hi"].

I would attach fotos of something, but my camera ran out of battery and I only have a cable to connect it because my adaptor broke, so it's a bit rough for the time being.

Juiciositos [which translated is like being wise and putting judgment into your decisions],

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, September 28, 2015


So, yes, I had cambio [transfers]. I left Cereté to the great city of Armenia, almost 3 times the size of Cereté. It´s much more beautiful here in every way. The weather reminds me of an early Colorado autumn, and also when we turn a corner and see a bunch of mountain peaks. We live on top of a large hill in Armenia, so we walk downhill to basically all our citas and while we´re within like 8 blocks from the house, we can see all of Armenia. There´s a ton of stuff I could be saying, but I just don´t have the time to write it all, but I´m trying to get it all down in my journal.

So, my area is called Álamos and my comp is Elder Velazquez from Panama, though he lives in Canada. Although he speaks perfect English, we always talk in Spanish. We´re both the zone leaders, and I´ll explain a bit of what that means for those of you who haven´t served missions. Basically, we verify the district leaders (what I was for the last couple months) in Armenia and train/motivate/care for all the missionaries in Armenia which is a count of 20, 4 of which being misioneras [sister missionaries]. Talon, that answers your question, and yes, it´s always a bit rough with hermanas, I know. I learned a bit also in Envigado when I had 2 hermanas in my district. We also are in charge of basically anything the missionaries need, may it be money, houseware, health, questions, and basically everything before it ever gets to the office. It´s really intensive and I´m really blessed to have the comp I´ve got. Elder Velazquez has 6 months less in the mission than I, but has 6 weeks more as LZ.

And yes, mom, it´s the Zona Armenia. And I don´t know our address, I´ll look for it and tell you next week. We´re trying to find a new house though because there are a couple things here that aren´t very good, just stuff that makes the house less functional. Also, the weather here is pretty chilly in the mornings, and our shower doesn´t heat up because the electric heater broke. So, the showers are super cold and it kinda takes the fun out of shower time. No, it doesn´t feel like Cajamarca at all. The mountains are bigger and prettier, and the form of the city is different, and much bigger. I feel like I´m more in the mountains than when I was in Medellin. Also, the only ones in our apartment are my comp and I.

So, speaking of the toe, everyone always seems to have their own magic remedy. In Cereté, it was normally salt and something. Salt and lukewarm water, or salt with some leaf of a specific plant. Here, the Pta of the SocSoc uses hot candle wax for basically anything. So, she tried it on my toe and maybe it helped, but maybe not because we were unable to carry though the necessary second treatment.

Hey, so also last night we saw a tiny bit of the eclipse, just as we were leaving a lesson going home. Basically nothing was happening so it was probably just beginning. But that picture that Emma took looks stellar.

So, talking with my comp, he hasn´t written in his journal since being made LZ. I´ve been trying to be juicioso [judicious] with that, but verifying takes us past 10:30 and other administrative things. There´s just a ton to do as LZ, and my comp and I have a combined 8 weeks doing it. I´d write more, but time. 

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, September 21, 2015


So the LZ are being "goofballs" (rough translation from a local idiom). So, I don't know if I'm leaving Cereté this week or what. Maybe they'll call before I finish writing the letter. The time has been really different with Elder Izquierdo. On top of it all, he's been sick and so it's making working more difficult. Just cosas [things]. 

Saturday we had a service activity by the little hospital here in Cereté cleaning an area from trash. It was fun, even though about 5 members came, but they were a good 5 members. 

Yo with the elders quorum president, Alvaro Peña with out plastic bag work gloves
 Oriana helping me out with a service project

In the afternoon, we got to the capilla [chapel] early to help prepare for the bautismos [baptisms]. It was at 3:30 that we found out the drain in the font didn't work, and the bautismos were at 4. After trying to solve the problem mechanically, we ended up just taking out the water by hand. When Diogenes and Gissell got there, we were still emptying the pila [baptismal font]. And then Marco (lider misional) [ward mission leader] started filling it up, and then we started to take pictures and he forgot about it, and we ended up having a real deep font for the baptisms. But, it all went well, but I need to go get the pictures from the ward missionary and so I guess I'll send pictures next week. 
Diogenes's Baptism
Gissell's Baptism

So, with all the talk right know of "cuidaos del orgullo" [Beware of Pride], I put myself to think (doing the next bit in Spanish because I'm having trouble putting sentences together in English. I'm doing a ton of backspacing). en todo mi tiempo en la misión y más como líder en la misión, me doy cuenta una y otra vez de la diferencia entre los buenos y los malos. Hablando de los misioneros, los investigadores, y los miembros. Hay algunas personas con quien siempre queremos trabajar, y siempre hay algunas personas con quien no queremos hacer mucho. La diferencia entre esas personas es constantemente dependiente en su orgullo o su humildad. No importa cuanto sepan ni la experiencia que tengan, depende tanto en su humildad. Una persona humilde esta siempre dispuesta de tomar consejos, corregirse, trabajar con otros, escuchar, y no pelea tanto. Ezra Taft Benson, en su discurso de "Cuidaos del Orgullo" en la Liahona de Julio 1989 dice que hay una diferencia entre estar orgulloso y ser orgulloso. Esta bien estar orgulloso de quizá un hijo, un logro, o algo así. Pero, cuando alguien se eleve más que otras personas, pasa la linea a ser orgulloso. De allí vienen los problemas de que hablo. Solo no sean así. Se llama el pecado universal por una razón, que todos lo tenemos. Solo quítenlo, y lograremos mucho más juntos. If you don't read Spanish, put it in Google Translate or something I guess. And, well, we still don't know cambios.

[All in all, my time on the mission, and more as being a leader in the mission, I realize every now and then the difference between the good and the bad.  Speaking of the missionaries, the investigators, and the members.  There are some people with whom we always want to work, and there are always some people with whom we don't want to do much with.  The difference in these two types of people is consistently dependent upon their pride or humility.  It doesn't matter how much they know or how much experience they have had, it depends completely on their humility.  A humble person is always willing to take advise, to correct themselves, work with others, listen, and not fight much.  Ezra Taft Benson, in his talk "Beware of Pride" in the July 1989 Liahona Magazine, said that there is a difference between feeling proud and being prideful.  It is good to feel proud of your child,of an achievement, or something like that.  But, when someone elevates themselves above others, he passes the line into being prideful.  This is where the problems arise from which I am talking about.  But they are not good.  It is called the universal sin for one reason: that we all have it.  If we can all just remove it, we will be able to achieve a lot more together.]

Zona Montería in the Finca de la Mamita, Elderes y Hermanas, Bagley, Nevado, Quiroga, Hicken, Muñoz, Welling, Zuchel, Rojas, Guzmán, Crandall, Condori, Bobadilla, Dávila, Torres, Fajardo, León, Hna Ballesteros, bottom row, Hna Vallejo, Hna Antonio, niño Rodolfo having an exorcism, Hna I don´t remember, she´s new.
Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Also, he wrote us a couple hours after this email and said:
"Hey, they called me just now and I'm going to Armenia! It's south of Medellin, so tonight I'm leaving tonight."
and then a little later:
"Also Mom, my toe is the same. I tried out shoes yesterday and my toe was killing me and it was not good. Hey, just a bit ago they told us more info. Muñoz is going to Manizales opening a new area, and I'm going to be lider de zona, so it'll be inner-city and right in the center."

Note, that he is not being transferred to the country Armenia (a former Soviet republic and neighbor to Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran).  We'll just stop that rumor before it starts :-)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Q'mas de Colombia

So, this week, we focused a lot on getting a couple baptisms wrapped up before cambios.

So, we've got two baptisms lined up for this coming week, and I'm psyched because I've worked super hard for these baptisms. Actually, basically everyone has told me that these people aren't progressing and I've been the constant through multiple comps and intercambios. Diogenes I've talked about a bit in my letters home, but from him I learned to just do it. He didn't come to church for like 8 weeks and we went to him and "defined" him, basically deciding to drop him or not. It was that talk that got him to go to church, and he started going and now he's getting baptized. The other is Gisel. She's taken a lot of perseverance. It's been slow progress. We contacted her almost my first week in Cereté, and it's been a roller coaster getting her to baptism, and it's finally going through. Sometimes it's good to really make sure someone understands your intentions and goals, how you're seeing the finished product because that gets things going in the direction you want, and clears up tons of confusion. 

It's been rough with these two, and it's rewarding to have it so close. They still need their baptismal interviews which are on Tuesday, but still. I've put a lot of work into them two, and we've seen a ton of change in them, and especially Gisel. She's the older sister of a JAS [young single adult] in the ward, and she's had the lessons before, but went to Barranquilla and didn't get baptized. When I got to Cereté, we did a service for the family and I started talking to her about prayer and religion. She didn't really want to talk, and expressed that she didn't feel that religion ni [nor] prayer were actually important, and that God could understand her desires and that was enough. We explained that desires aren't sufficient, and God expects action to show faith. (With "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" in the back of my mind) and still progress was very slow. Over the next month or two, we built trust with her and began to visit more and teach the structured lessons. Then she began to read the Book of Mormon and it progressed much more, and getting her to church, and everything has been a battle, and then going smoothly afterwards. Every comp I've had here, and in almost every intercambio, I've been told that she'll never progress but I've stuck with her, sometimes dragging Pezo to citas. It's been great to see her change and be always reading her homewrork, and trying to understand the passages. 

Today we've got lunch with two lesbian investigators, and it should be interesting. Cereté has taught me a ton in the last 6 months and I just don't know how to put it in words. I'm sure a bunch of you know how that is.

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Lunch -- an hermana gave us a fish last week

some dog that followed Izquierdo and I for like 2km

the Caño Bugre, the big river of Cereté, dried in the sun and it smells bad too

Monday, September 7, 2015

Nuevo compañero

There´s a list of stuff to talk about, I think I might get to the points. I go chronologically. Tuesday afternoon, Elder Muñoz and I went to the clinic to get our feet checked out. They gave us the typical expensive list of drugs we probably don´t actually need, and told us not to use shoes. So, I think we´re the only two missionaries in the mission to proselyte in sandals, so I´m back to my beloved flip flops. Gosh I love flip flops, and I kinda want my infection to never heal so I can stay with flip flops. After a week of treatment, it´s still there, so I guess maybe there´s a chance.

Also, Tuesday, my new comp got here. Elder Izquierdo from Lima and he´s dying in December [being released from his mission to go home, not literally dying]. This guy is unbelievable tronky. The good side is that I never have to make him work, he just comes with me when I tell him too. But, I apparently maintain my luck for comps. Everyone feels real bad for me, and basically they say they´ll pray for me that my next comp will be a good one. I kinda see stuff like this differently now, very very differently than I was when Rios was my companion back in Envigado. But, he´s a good guy, bought us all churros today.

Also this week, we efectuated a very odd intercambio [exchange]. Intercambios are normally between the LD and his missionaries, LZ and his missionaries, HL and her missioneras, AP or Pte with their missionaries. Well, the whole mission was told to do intercambios entre LD within every zone. They never told anyone why, just told us to do it and give an informe [report back]. I kinda felt like Nefi [Nephi], saying I have no idea why, but I do it hoping there´s a good reason. Even weirder, the intercambio was for 2 days, and not the standard 24 hours. But, they sent me to Lorica for the two days, and I was with Elder Welling, another gringo. It was really really interesting, and I was told they wanted me to really help out Welling because he´s struggling. He almost doesn´t speak Spanish at all, and he´s having a bit of trouble with mission life. I really had to trust in the Spirit for that, and I hope I did all right. I was just totally in the dark about what to do for this guy because I practically didn´t know him at all. Then, in my area they put Muñoz and Izquierdo together because my comp had like 2 days in our area and Muñoz knew the area because of our three weeks in trio.

Yesterday, church was really interesting. Diogenes came, but left early because he said he felt sick. I have a slight feeling it wasn´t so much that he felt sick to the stomach, but that he´s sick of the super boring elders quorum classes we have. Overall, he´s progressing well to his baptism. And he´s right about the elders quorum classes, I think we´re going to say something to the elders quorum presidente. Hey M+D, actually, I´m not going to talk about the ward. pg 20, MM (español).

Hey mom, on the asunto of being sick, here I depend much more heavily on prayer than drugs. Muñoz caught a cold this last week and no one has any idea how. It never drops below 30C, and during the day it´s normally 35-38C, and it was just a surprise. He was pretty grave yesterday.

Hey mom, good luck with translating in that talk, tell me how it goes! Hah and good, now you know how it feels to plan everything you were going to say, then sit down and forget it all. It´s rough.

Hey, so I don´t know if you´ve heard, but missionaries usually gain alot of weight in the mission. I weighed myself leaving out the door to the airport the day I left and I was 150lbs, like 68kg. When I got to Cereté, I was almost 75kg. I´ve gotten myself down to 71kg, so I´m closer to when I left than 6 months ago.

One thing I've been focusing on with my missionaries is using your time well. We almost always overestimate the time we´ve got. That´s my invitation home, to use your time better. Get rid of laziness. If you think being lazy helps you rest in any way, it's actually scientifically and biogically not true, it actually is physically tiring. It just doesn´t do you good. Just use your time better.

Always Great,
Élder Hicken