Monday, February 23, 2015

Change in Companion

Hey, the last week wasn´t exactly a great one in the ways of progress.  

Friday was the baptismal date of Luz Mary, but for a week and a half before it, she wouldn´t answer our phone calls and didn´t come to church, so she wasn´t baptized. We finally talked to her on Saturday and she gave us like 10 excuses and we´ll visit with her this week. 

Regina didn´t come to church yesterday, and didn´t have time for us all week, and so we couldn´t visit with her until this Thursday. It was rough, really, with them two. 

Also, Thursday Elder Wadell of the area presidency came and we had a conference with him all day. It was great! He spoke of a lot of things, one of them being baptisms. That in the area, many missionaries are baptizing people, not converts. That after being baptized, many of them go inactive and that´s not great. Missionaries are baptizing to baptize, and aren´t taking enough care. He spoke a bit about the purpose of the Priesthood is to create eternal families. Also, he gave the statistic that Medellin has the best statistic of baptizing our nuevos, but that we aren´t getting nearly enough nuevos in the mission. The conference was really motivating and awesome. 

Also, cambios are this week! Hurtado is going to Armenia, all the way south of the mission. He stays as District Leader in his district "Brazilia" and I´m the new District Leader of Envidago. My new companion will be Elder Rios from Chile, and all day everyone has been warning me and giving be advice of him because apparently he´s an awful companion to have. But, they also say that he´s great a getting nuevos which Envigado needs. But, also always goes really bad with the members, and likes to order around his companions a lot. He´s got about 18 months in the mission. But, I´ve learned to be a bit assertive and confrontational (learned how to be confrontational from Scrubs) and so we´ll see how this works out. 
But, statistically I´ll only be in Envigado for 6 weeks more and so I´ve got a cambio [one transfer] to baptize. 

Hey, the snow storm sounds awesome! I could say I´m jealous, it just rained a bit this week. I think I´ve adjusted to the weather as much as I will, the heat doesn´t kill me anymore, and I´m able to wear normal pants and not get heat stroke. Still always hot and I always feel covered in sweat. But, it´s fun, that´s the mission. 

Also, Elder Routson, one of the LZ is leaving to Montería in the coast, where it´s super hot. Also, no one new is coming to the office so, for the first time in forever, there´ll be only 8 missionaries in the ward. Normally, one of the secretaries is training, but now no. Just 4 secretaries, the asisstants, and the missionaries that actually do the work in the ward. 

Oh also, we got given my first really feo [terrible] lunch in Envigado! You should read that without any bit of enthusiasm in the voice or thought. Hey Mom, remember how I´ve never liked your lentil soup? Take out everything but the lentils and water, and then put in liver. Hurtado didn´t know how I managed to eat it all, I just told him I had a bit of practice. He had almost a bit. But then yesterday our lunch was super good and we talked the whole time about superheroes and it was great, so it makes up for it. 

Hey, thanks for the Valentine´s Day package, MN Hickens! Also, I got the letters from the Burgoynes and President Priday, thanks! Sometimes, stuff actually gets here really quick. Like the Christmas package you guys sent didn´t get here until the end of January though you sent it at the end of November, but the Valentine´s package only took two weeks. But, great to hear that I, like, mean something to you guys! But actually, the LZ act like I get a package every other week. Also, the family calendar is awesome! Actually everyone in the zone was looking at it and were super jealous and saying that I´m going to get all trunky looking at pictures of the family all year. 

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, February 16, 2015


Well, Luz Mary didn´t come to church yesterday, so that baptism isn´t happening this weekend. We don´t know what happened with her, but she hasn´t answered any of our phone calls for I think now over a week. Also, we´ve never taught her in her house, only the house of her mom, so we can´t go directly to the source. 

On the bright side, Regina finally came to church! We invited her again to be baptized on Saturday, and she said practically that the only thing holding her back was that she wanted to go to church to make the decision. So, she went and she´s got a friend there and all. But, she left right at 12 so we weren´t able to talk to her afterwards. 

Basically, the most difficult area in the mission is going through a hard spur. Cambios are in a week, but they´re already all figured out because Elder Waddell of the Area Presidency will be here with us on Thursday so the Pte and APs are traveling through the mission with him all week. But, it does mean that all the missionaries are sniffing for leaks in the Mahonri-moriancumr barge secret holders that are the APs. I don´t think there´s ever been a leak about cambios. 

In this part of the letter, I´m going to talk about the out of the ordinary bad things that have happened, and the good things that I see in them. As you may remember, an Hermano in the ward dissapeared January 6th, and for over a month no one had heard anything. His wife lives in San Rafael, he has a married daughter with two kids, and two sons in the mission, and two Young Men. Also, like 4 of his siblings and his widowed mother live in the ward. A week ago, the family put down their Pit Bull because it was too dangerous, attacking children and such. It was essentially the dog of the father, but since he was gone, they didn´t have much stopping them from putting it down. He was super old anyway. But, we got there right as the man was putting the body in a plastic bag and we talked a bit with the family that was there, and then went to Hno Torres. We got there just as he was washing blood off his hands after nearly cutting his arm off with a power saw. (He´s a carpenter). If anyone wants pictures, I can get them to you. And when I say nearly, I mean that literally. It´s a nasty cut. He´s the Elders Quorum president, and this made it a bit more difficult to magnify his calling. Well, the Franco family, (the family from which the Hno disappeared) I know I have mentioned before because they are in my top 5 list of strongest families in the church that I have ever met. On Thursday, they received the first word of their father in over a month. His bones were found in a forest and they really just identified him by the documents he had on him. Obviously, this was a bit sad and disastrous for the ward, considering the quality of man that Hno Franco was. A fantastic Hermano, he was. But, with these two families, we have seen marvelous strength through the difficulties. Hna Franco still has never ever missed a Sunday since her baptism, and the Fast Sunday after the disappearance of her husband she shared her testimony about eternal families, and continues magnifying her calling as Primary President. Her daughter invited missionaries over to her house for lunch yesterday, and Hno Franco is fulfilling his calling as Elders Quorum President, and is still eager to assist us with the missionary work. The Franco kids continue to be great influences in the ward, and the missionaries all marvel at how these families become stronger through their trials, which are just magnified if you consider the economic condition that everyone lives in here.  Hno Torres can´t work for a month, and the oldest Franco son at home has taken the role with his mother of earning all the money to support the family, and the two sons in the mission. Here, everyone hardly earns more than they need. 

These stories also make me feel a bit ashamed for the people I´ve known that gave up on everything because of something difficult, or decided that something wasn´t worth it because it required more time than was convenient. To me, those are two signs that could indicate an undedicated and often weak-minded person. Every good thing comes through rough bits. And, the rough bits just make it better anyway. 

This week, a less-active Patricia Moralez passed as rescatado, or reactivated. She´s a great person and knows really that it´s important to go to church, though she wasn´t going. But, all it really took was us to go, give a little service, share a little of the Book of Mormon, invite her to read and pray everyday, and invite her to church on Sunday, and she was there within two weeks. She´s really like the dream rescate [Re-activated Member] that we want. It was great. In the zone, we have the problem that out of the like 15 fechas [dates] we had for February, all but like 2 fell, and no one´s happy with that. I think a lot will change in the next cambio [transfer], with a bunch of missionaries that don´t know the past of Poblado. I hope they leave me here in Envigado, to be honest. 

Don´t do things you´ll be ashamed of in 100 years.

Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, February 9, 2015

YAY February

We did two different intercambios [exchanges] this week, one with the LZ [District Leaders] and the other with the other Elders in our district. I was with Bleazard oand basically just did errands for the zone, but I was having fun and thought it was great. I was with Elder Flores and we had all this stuff planned, and just about all of it fell through and it rained hardcore. 

This week, in comparison with the one before, was super lame. We had basically all of our happenings in the first couple days, and it was half Hurtado and Routson in the intercambio and then the last half was us with citas [appointments] falling through and people not being home. 

Luz Mary is great and really enthusiastic. She went to a Relief Society activity all on her own and had a great time but didn´t make it to church because her 18 year old son has been sick. But, she has a lot of enthusiasm to share the stuff she´s learned and really it´s just a wonderful situation. But, now if she doesn´t come to church, se cae la fecha [she'll miss her goal for her baptismal date]. 

We finally met with a less active named Dairon Muñoz, and it´s a real interesting situation with his home. He hasn´t been attending church and no one knows why, and his wife told us we couldn´t visit them but we are anyway. But, the wife is interesting. She seems normal, but there´s just something a little off about her. The members say she´s loca [crazy] and I´m not sure whether to believe them or not, but it´s been said by more than just a couple members, and not in a joking way. 

So, in this week falta [lack] of progress, a highlight was that we got free pizza. Domino´s here has a policy that if it takes more than a half hour to get to the house, it´s free and it took 32 minutes. Pizza is like a really big thing in this mission. Especially in the areas with comida fea [bad food]. 

Hey, super awesome that Larry Gelwix spoke at CC! The mission has adopted Forever Strong as our movie, and stuff like that, so that´s just something super cool. [Note from Brent: CC is the Crown Council that my company is a resource partner with as we provide internet marketing to many of their member dentists (including endodontists and orthodontists, too.  Shaun - you should look into it.  Too bad the annual event is often in conflict with the Angle meeting, but the other benefits from it through the year are well worth becoming a member).  Sunny and I attended their annual event last week in Las Vegas where Larry Gelwix was one of presenters.]

The bishop told the leaders in Ward Council that Hurtado and I are the official missionaries of Envigado and the oficina is just extra missionaries and all references go to us, and basically our area expanded from San Rafael and Sabaneta (already double a normal area) to all Barrio Envigado, which is almost the biggest ward in the mission, with sq ft probably comparable to the Littleton Stake. Lots of walking, but more work. It´s just a puzzle to put it all together. At the same time, we got a new Mission Leader, a super busy guy that travels a lot and we are about to see how that works out, transferring from a guy with a lot of time to put into the mission work. 

the lizard we caught in our house. I cut its tail off.
Always Great,
Élder Hicken

Monday, February 2, 2015

Por Fin [at last]

I don`t know if I`ve mentioned this in other letters, but on a scale of 1-10, the mission Medellín is fairly disobedient. A lot of it is due to a lenient President, but it`s having a heavy effect on the mission. The mission has the potential to baptize more than 120 people every month, but in January the mission had 30 baptisms and 39 in December, with 96 in November. The Carta del Presidente [Letter from the mission president] this week was pretty strong about the state of the mission and the lack of obedience. I`m waiting in anticipation for the next president, Pte Calderon, and hoping he`ll whip the mission back into shape, even if it means sending a bunch of missionaries back home for disobedience. 

But, in this hardcore lull in success, Hurtado and I finally have a baptismal date! Luz Mary set the goal to prepare for the 21st of February! Obviously, this doesn`t assure that we`ll have her baptism on the 21st, but it means she can progress and basically you can`t get baptized if you never have a baptismal date. But, considering our area hasn`t had a baptism in over a year, we celebrated and bought a pizza. 

But, it hasn`t gone so well with Adriana. She told us she didn`t want us coming and teaching her anymore. It wasn`t because she didn`t want to listen, but more because she knew she wasn`t progressing. Of course, this doesn`t mean she`s out and gone of our lives. She said she would still like it if we shared like a message with the family and still came over and everything like that, but just not specifically for her. So, we are going to continue having Noches de Hogar in the house of the familia Franco (where she lives, with her sister Hna Franco) and share messages and basically increase her faith in Christ without teaching her directly. Hopefully, she`ll feel differently in an undefined amount of time, and she definitely can. She`s going to church every week now, for 3 weeks in a row, and considering she lives with one of the strongest families in the Church in the entire world, we figure she`ll continue attending. But, that was a little sad for us because we had big hopes for her. 

Hey, also the family calendar got here! Not to my house yet, but my LZs have it. They called last night to ask if they could look at it and I said yes and they said the family is ridiculously photogenic and I said thanks it`s genetic. But, apparently Renen`s birthday and mine are right so it`s making out to be a great calendar. 

Yesterday in church, it was funny. In Elders quorum, the Elders president was just doing the initial quick announcements before the lesson, and a nonmember spoke up and talked for the entire lesson and ended like 5 minutes past when the class was supposed to end and it was super boring and and it was good that he sat in the front row because the entire class was like what is he doing but he talked too long and he said good things, but there`s a way to say the same thing in 5 minutes and not 50. But, one really funny thing was that like 30 minutes through, an older hermano in the back stood up and said "hay como una regla en la Iglesia que no es escrita, y dice que una persona no debe hablar mas que cinco minutos en la clase" [There's an unspoken rule in the church that says that no one should speak more than 5 minutes in a class,]  and then we all laughed and then the nonmember talked for another 20 minutes and we were like this is the best. Mackenzie sent me a quote this week that I really liked and want to share with you all. "Every time you find humour in a difficult situation, you win"-Charlie Brown. 

Something that Hurtado and I have taught many times is that it`s never ever all bad. Like, for example, our area for the last year! People don`t listen and don`t progress, and the members don`t participate much, and all the difficulties, but the foods really good and there`s potential, and now we have a fecha [baptismal date] and also teaching JWs is hilarious. It`s ridiculous how many of my friends from BYU and from home are on missions now! It`s like "a thing" I guess.

Elder Hurtado with me and Elder Ramos, the two missionaries he trained [his hijos]

 Gajardo, Chuquimia, Flores where we buy carnes 

Be excellent to each other.
Always Great,
Élder Hicken