Sunday, July 24, 2011

Making and keeping friends!

Today we visited the Floresta Ward in Cali where I was reunited with the Moyano family -- members I baptized 34 years ago in the summer of 1977.  Laura Moyano had 12 children, and at that time, 2 were baptized with her.  Later, her husband Jorge Alberto and other children were also baptized.  Although Jorge passed away some years ago, just last month Laura went to the Bogota Temple - at significant personal sacrifice and hardship - where she was sealed to her deceased husband and had a deceased son sealed to them as well.  In the picture below, Maria Angelica and Claudia also appear with their mother and a local High Councilor, Jorge Mora, who was friends to them as a boy during my years.  Much to our delight, Laura showed us an old photograph of "Elder Prince" (circa 1977) that she faithfully carries with her at all times.  She told us she had "prayed us back" to Cali so she could see "her missionary" again.  Friends like these make it all worthwhile.

Later on this evening we attended a fireside in the Terron Colorado Ward where we again were reunited with old friends.  At this fireside, we spoke to the youth about preparing for full time missionary service.  We were struck by the strength, the humility, and especially the open, loving culture of these wonderful Saints.  What did we do to deserve these opportunities?  We are honored to be among them, making new friends while being reunited with old ones.

Oh, what a week!

On Monday, July 18 we welcomed Elder Venable to the best mission in the world.  He flew in at night and managed to get his luggage even with the power outage at the airport!  After some training on Tuesday morning by our capable office staff, he is ready to go to work!

On Tuesday, July 19, we welcomed all of our Zone Leaders to the office for Zone Leader Counsel.  What a great group of Leaders...future Bishops, Stake Presidents, and Mission Presidents.  We took them to Cristo Rey where they sang ¨High On a Mountain Top¨to the city of Cali below.  What a wonderful moment!

On Wednesday, July 20 we flew to Medellín.  July 20 is also Independence Day for Colombia.  We saw a lot of Colombian flags hanging out in front of homes.  Jon did interviews for 2 days while Marcie and I went with Zone Leaders to do apartment inspections.  Those with clean apartments were awarded the M & M award for ¨Misioneros Maravillosos¨!  We did give out a few of them!! 

On Friday we held our first zone conference with the Medellín and Belén Zones.  We asked our Latin Elders to prepare a short testimony or thought to share in English.  We chose names lottery style and had them come to the pulpit.  The spirit was REALLY strong as they bore sweet, simple testimony in a language that is foreign to them.  I KNOW how hard it is to get up and speak in a foreign language.  I am so proud of their efforts and know they will be blessed as they keep learning and studying.  Working with members, obedience, leadership and unity were just a few of the topics covered throughout the day.  Both zones came out victorious in the friendly competition held in the afternoon...Belén won the pictionary game and Medellín the scripture chase. 

Birthdays for May, June and July were celebrated after lunch.  Jon spent the evenings out in the field working with the missionaries while Marcie and I took in a little shopping at the mall.  We flew back to Cali on Saturday.  Saturday is a special day...time to rest and get ready for Sunday!

Monday, July 18, 2011

On the Road

We left Friday evening, July 15 for a 3 hour drive to Armenia.  We were met on the outskirts of town by President Londoño and his wife.  They helped us find our way to the chapel.  The Aremenia District had organized a wonderful evening for couples.  They began with a fireside that we took part in and then had a dinner and dance.  I MUST learn how to Salsa before leaving Colombia!

In the morning we were off to Manizales.  It was a beautiful two and a half hour drive through the heart of the coffee growing area of Colombia.  The hillsides were rich green and cultivated from valley floor to the top of the hills.  The vegetation is like paradise. 

President Rendon met us on the outskirts of town to help us find our way to the chapel.  President Prince had interviews until 1pm.  He presides over these districts and is the one who has to issue temple recommends to first time temple goers as well as interviewing a lot of prospective missionaries.  He delights in the opportunity to meet with these humble people. 

Meanwhile, Elders Crompton and Diaz met Marcie and I at the chapel and we headed out onto the streets of Manizales to visit the apartments of the Elders there.  I think the advance warning helped as all apartments were in great shape.  One apartment is quite a cave and we will start looking for a replacement as it is dreary and dark.  We had the time to visit the town square and take pictures in front of the cathedral.  Manizales is built on many hillsides.  I´m not sure which was the greatest adventure -driving the narrow, steep roads OR walking them .  But I do know which was the best exercise!

why yes!  I did drive on these streets!

We left Manizales and drove to Tulua where Jon was to preside over the Tulua District Conference.  We again were met on the outskirts of town and guided into the chapel...just in time for priesthood session to start.  Two of the priesthood brethren guided us to the Hotel Principe (very appropriate for the Prince family) where Marcie and I checked in and then took a nap.  They returned for us in time for the Saturday evening adult session.  We had a good time with the members.  President Garcia is a wonderful leader and gave a great talk.  Jon and I sang and then Jon spoke.  He did a great job. 

Sunday morning we arrived at the chapel at 9am.  Jon had a meeting and Marcie and I had fun trying to converse with the members who arrived for the conference.  The language of music is universal and Marcie wows everyone on the piano.  They asked her to play prelude this morning.  We have been welcomed with open arms, abrazos, and kisses on the cheeks.  People love to practice their English with us...and we don´t mind helping!  Jon and I both spoke in this session of conference.  Someday I will know enough Spanish to adapt on the fly...until then, I just read what is translated on the page in front of me! 

We were invited to lunch at the home of President Rafael Jimenez and his wife Diana.  The lunches here are BIG and we are introduced to a variety of new food each day.  We had fun reuniting with Liborio Jimenez and his wife.  (Rafael´s parents)  They had visited our home in Utah many years ago.  We arrived home tired, but had such a wonderful experience visiting with these wonderful members of the church.  The church is in the hands of strong capable leaders here in Colombia.  They are working hard to strengthen the members and help their districts become stakes.  They have lofty goals and I know Heavenly Father will bless them.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Changes happen in the mission every 6 weeks.  After just 2 weeks in the mission field I feel like my whole life has changed.  The world out of my 15th floor window is a whole new world to me...the sounds of salsa music, horns honking, cars and motos whizzing by, people speaking spanish, and an occasional street vendors bell.  The sights of skyscrapers, colored buildings, yellow taxis, and darkness falling shortly after 6pm each evening.  All of these things are combining to paint the picture of my new world.  Looking out of my bedroom window you can see the Cristo Rey statue high above the city with its arms reaching out.  I am grateful to know that amidst all the changes that have taken place in my life this year, my Savior stands with His arms stretched out still ready to shelter me from the fear, sadness, and loneliness that might creep in. 

This weeks miracle (and it is only Thursday!)...I drove for the first time on the streets of Cali.  With Marcie in the passenger seat and Maria and Ana in the back as navigators, we made it safely across the city and home again!  This is no small miracle...if only you could experience the streets of Cali!


Saying Goodbye Is Hard To Do

We fell in love quickly with these dedicated missionaries and it is hard to say goodbye after just 2 weeks of knowing them.  (I have never liked goodbyes, so we will just say hasta luego!) They are excited to return to their families and ready to carry on in the work of the kingdom for the rest of their lives.  Best wishes:  Hermana Verdezoto and Elders Beltran, Miranda, Villamar, and Utria! 

Elder Miranda is the first missionary in the Colombia Cali mission to take and pass the English Oral Proficiency Exam.  All of our Latin Missionaries are studying English during their language study time.  It is NOT easy to learn a foreign language just from the books when they are not speaking it every day.  English is ONE thing I can do to help them!  I am so proud of them and their hard work.  
I am especially proud of Elder Miranda...his smile tells it all!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Our first New Missionaries

Today we picked up our first new missionaries.  We left the house at 6am for the airport (successfully finding it by small feat)  Elder Jara (on the left) arrived on time but without
 Elder Aspajo (on the right).  We were not sure which flight Elder Aspajo would be arriving on and learned from the office that it wouldn´t arrive for 3 hours.  We decided to head back into Cali and return later for Elder Aspajo.  While leaving the airport, we took the wrong road and had to find a retorno to go back to the airport to get on the correct road.  We learned on our way back that Elder Aspajo was waiting at the airport and had made it on an earlier flight.  We are sure that the Lord was driving our car this morning!  We have our first new missionaries!!  They are anxious to get to work and serve the Lord!  We had lunch together at the mission home and then they headed out to work.
Here we are with our capable office Elders and Assistants: Elders Garcia, Gallo, Zanuttini, Alfaro, Farr, and Guevarra.  Elder Jara and Elder Aspajo are in great hands!  Welcome to the best mission in the world!

First Week on the Job

We survived - with the help of our capable assistants (Elder Gallo, left, and Elder Farr, right) and office elders (represented by Elder Alfaro in the center)! They tell us where to be, who we are, and how to do it. Couldn't do it without them!
We traveled from north to south and several cities in between meeting all of our missionaries. Here we are in Medellín on day 1 of our bienvenida tour. Day 2 we were in Pereira, day 3 - Cali, day 4 - Palmira, and day 5 - Pasto. All of the missionaries welcomed us with abrazos for President Prince and warm handshakes for Sister Prince.  The Hermanas of our mission are wonderful!  What hardworking, dedicated young men!
 With each group of elders we played a game called El Panorama to develop unity, leadership, and focus on our investigators. Only two of the five groups came off victorious, but all had fun working together.
On Sunday, we drove up to see the Cristo Rey in Cali.  We can see this out of our bedroom window every day.
This perspective of the city is much calmer than down on the streets. The city goes forever; it's beautiful! Just one small piece of our vineyard.

The week was full of miracles:  I fell sick on 2 of the travel days but with the help of a priesthood blessing, we didn't miss one session with the missionaries.  The keys were locked in the running car without an extra set...miraculously we found one back window that opened up and an Elder crawled in and opened it up.  Jon lost his daily planner in an airport as we boarded a plane to fly south to Pasto.  Prayers were answered and they located the planner in the airport and had it waiting for us on our return trip.  We went to church and met the grandmother of one of my volunteers in the MTC during my language training.  She was thrilled and had a picture of her granddaughter with her.  Jon has reunited with members he helped to baptize while serving his mission here in Colombia 35 years ago. 

Cali is full of chaos on the streets and I am terrified at the thought of trying to drive (no I haven't even attempted that yet!) , but the peace of the gospel is found in the chapels and in the warm smiles of the members. 

We had the opportunity to speak to a single adult fireside on our first Sunday here.  Marcie has played the piano at every meeting with the missionaries.  The spirit has filled the room the same way her music fills the air.  We are blessed in spite of our weaknesses.  There is so much to learn...and then learn it all in Spanish!  Exhausted...but enduring to the end!

Changing of the Guard

On July 1, President Prince took the steering wheel - literally - and with keys in hand, dropped La Familia Bolivar off at the airport to head back to their home in Bogotá. We've never missed anyone so badly! What an incredible mission president to follow. We have so much to learn. I don't know what scared me most: taking over the mission or driving the streets of Cali! The learning curve is steep.

Peru - Area Training

On June 27, the three of us flew to Lima, Peru for Area Training. Marcie is coming with us for the summer until she has to return to BYU at the end of August. We are so happy to have her with us! We traveled with six other new Mission President couples who have been assigned to the South America Northwest Area.

The first day we were there, we went to the Lima Temple. It was beautiful. The girls did baptisms while they waited for us to finish. We also had the opportunity to tour the Lima MTC as well as the Area Office.
Day 2 we had all-day trainings with Elder Nash and the Area Presidency. He is an incredible teacher, and we were spiritually uplifted.
We are so lucky to have met such amazing people!

Good luck to these families!

Mission Presidents Seminar

On June 21, Marcie and Steve dropped us off at the MTC to begin the Mission Presidents' Seminar.

We had dinner with Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Elder Lynn G. Robbins. It was good to see Kathy Christofferson again after many years; they used to live in the Herndon Ward.

Tutor by day and seminar waiter by night: one of our favorite tutors, Edward
Karl and Holly Tilleman: new mission presidents in Vancouver, Canada. Karl was a counselor to Bishop Prince in the Herndon Ward.
It was a week of spiritual feasting. We felt the support of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the 12, and many General Authorities as they taught us, dined with us, and put their arms around us.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Set apart as mission president of the Colombia Cali Mission

On Tuesday, June 21, 2011 we met with Elder Todd Christofferson and Elder Lynn Robbins to be set apart as the Mission President of the Colombia Cali Mission and his companion.  It was a beautiful day surrounded by our family.