Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014

Well Mom,
Not too much to say today since we talked on Christmas Day. 
Well----I guess there is one thing. On Saturday the sisters had a couple of baptisms. One of their baptisms asked me to baptize him, so very happily I did. Also, his daughter was baptized. Then later on in the day they had another baptism. His name is Luis. My companion had to help baptize him because he can’t walk. It was a very spiritual baptism.

Also, my last companion, Elder Collins, now Dayde Collins, has finished his mission. He is studying at BYU. He told me he got there recently. He wants to get to know the family. So I gave him your number and dad’s number. Expect a call from him. And if you would like you can invite him to eat. He would love it. He is a really good runner. Like REALLY good. He will probably run for the BYU cross country team. I am sure you will get along just great. Also, he eats a lot, and when I say a lot-- I mean a lot! His stomach is a black hole. He is one of the 7 wonders of the world he eats so much. But yeah, invite him over, chat a little bit, eat a good dinner, and you can even have him play the piano.  He is a professional piano player as well.

Love, Elder Rucker
The gift I got in the mission gift exchange. Pretty small, right?

 Our Zone with the Christmas gift from President. It is a journal with our name and the symbol of the mission.

Love Elder Rucker

December 21, 2014

Making yummy cookies!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 15, 2014

Hey Mom, 
This was a stressful week. The assistants had us literally running around town to get everything ready for the Mission Christmas Conference here on the coast.  We had to put everything together and do everything and they advised us with very little time. But everything came out well and everyone had a great time.

Now that I am writing, I realize that was basically all we did this week. Run a bunch on errands preparing for the conference. 

President really likes the Haka. So each year each zone does a Haka. Ours turned out the best. We rock!!! My district also did a skit that was hilarious. The zone I am in is excellent. We were the life of the conference.
Love, Elder Rucker

Check out our Haka!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014

Hi Mom, 
Well…this week was a busy one. We had transfers. My old companion, Elder Collins, finished his mission. He got home on Thursday. My new Companion arrived on Wednesday. His name is Elder Rojas. He is from Bogota. His is 20 years old just like me. But he has only been in the Mission for 5 months. He served in the Colombian Military before coming on his mission. He is awesome.

This week I found something really special: Instant Potatoes. I bought them one night and made them the next morning for breakfast. They were delicious. 

Well, I don't know if you have seen it, but the church has put out a Christmas video. It is called, "He is the Gift". It is really good. The Church has made a bunch of promotional cards for us to hand out here. We have had a lot of success with the cards and with the video. We have more investigators. One night when we went contacting we saw a family outside their house talking. We contacted them and gave them the card. We told them that we did not have too much time but that we would like to come back another day to talk with them. They said that it was alright. Before we left they asked us a few questions and before we knew it we were sitting down teaching them. They are the Barrios family. They have a lot of interest in what we share. I know the Spirit opens a lot of hearts in the month of December. I know that any other time of year and this family would have rejected us. But the Spirit talked to their hearts and they listened. So now we are teaching them. It is the grandparents, the parents and the daughter. They are a great family. That is just one on the many success stories from contacting using "He is the Gift". 

That’s all for this week.  Love, Elder Rucker
p.s. Here on the coast it is so hot and so sunny that we are allowed to use Sombero hats. There is the foto of Elder Collins and me in our tracking hats.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December 1, 2014

Hey Mom,
This week was good. Not too many highlights but still a good week. 

First off, we went to a leaders conference in Medellin.  It is a conference we have about every month. So on Wednesday we traveled, it takes all day to get to Medellin from Monteria because we travel by bus. Then on Thursday (Thanksgiving) we had the conference. On Friday we traveled back to Monteria. Saturday was a normal day. Sunday was Elder Collins last Sunday in the mission. 

Today was busy in the morning. I had to send my companion off to Medellin. My new companion is Elder Rojas. I know him. Whenever we get together I speak with him. I am really excited.

Well, that is all for this week. Love, Elder Rucker

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 24, 2014

Hello Mom,
Stories from last week-
I have some bad news and I have some good news. And the weird thing is, they are the same thing. So here it is. Christmas came early this year. My package got to me really fast. I would have got it the end of November, however, the Assistants came to Monteria to work with my companion and me and they brought the package. So I am happy that I got it. I just did not have the patience to wait until Christmas to open it. But the good this is--I got it!

We are teaching a guy named Daniel. He is really smart. He speaks really good English. It is safe to say that he is atheist. This is the first time I have taught a person who doesn't believe in God. The good thing is that he has a Catholic background. So at least we are not starting from ground zero. He is awesome. 

Stories from this week-
It has been a good week. The Stake in Monteria asked us to put together a missionary choir. So that is what we did. We have been practicing for basically a month and on Saturday we had our first show. It was good. We also had 4 baptisms in our ward. They were not investigators of my companion and me but of the sisters that serve in the same ward with us. It was still cool to be present in the baptisms.

Well, those are the stories for this week. Enjoy.
Love, Elder Rucker

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November 18, 2014

Sorry had no time to write yesterday. I had to use pday for some errands for the Zone. Don’t have too much time right now. I am all good. Loving the mission. If I have time later, I will write more about the week. But if not, know that I am fine and Loving it here in the heat. We hit 95 the other day.

Love, Elder Rucker

November 9, 2014 Test of the week

What fruit is this?

November 9, 2014

Hey Mom,
This was a great week and a sad week. 

So why was it a sad week? Well, last week I told you we were working in a three way companionship with a new elder named Elder Gonzalez. This week he was sent to Armenia to be in a regular companionship. So we had to send him off. My companion talked with the Assistance to see if they would leave him with us but they said, "no". The Lord knows better than we do. Elder Gonzalez will do some great work in Armenia.

Now for the good news. One, last week I got the recipes for all the goodies. This week Elder Collins and I made the chocolate no bake cookies. They came out excellent. 

Two, I found Miracle Whip. It was a MIRACLE. It’s the first time I have seen it in Colombia. I just could not pass up the opportunity to buy it. It wasn't even that expensive. Anyway, when I bought it, I was able to carve the hunger for a cheese, jam and Miracle Whip sandwich. I have had the desire to eat one of those sandwiches since the MTC.

Three, to celebrate Grandpa’s birthday, my companion and I ate ice cream and a brownie. Yum!!!! I know the quality of the picture is not that great, sorry it’s a photo from my phone.

Now for the last and most important thing that happened this week.We have an investigator named Cesar. He has been investigating the church for more than a year. Every time we teach him I feel the spirit. He gives really good prayers. I have never have had an investigator pray with such sincerity to know if the church is true. He is great. Anyway this Sunday he attended church for the very first time. It was awesome. He had a smile on his face the whole time. When the classes finished a member gave him a Liahona (the magazine) and as we were walking out he saw a stack of Liahonas and asked if he would take more. It is only a matter of time before he gets baptized.

I love this work and I love being a missionary.
Love Elder Rucker

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 3, 2014

Hey Mom,
This week we traveled a lot. We had a zone leader conference in Medellin on Wednesday. So on Tuesday we were traveling and then on Wednesday we had the conference and then on Thursday, once again, we were traveling all day. We traveled by bus.

My companion is super great. His name is Elder Collins. He is from Washington. He is Awesome. Sadly, he will be finishing his mission at the end of this transfer. And more news: we work in a trio. We are companions with Elder Gonzalez. He is a new missionary and Elder Collins and I are his trainers. He is from Colombia. So yeah, we are doing good and enjoying things here in Monteria.

This week I had a very, very amazing experience.  My whole mission I have been in the city, and I still am, but my area is on the outskirts of town. Part of my area is still under development so there are lots of empty lots and fields. That means there is not a lot of light. In every other area there has been so much light that I could hardly see the stars. This week I saw the stars bright and clear for the first time in my whole mission. When I noticed the stars and that I could actually see them I told my companions to wait. When they looked back and saw I was looking up, they also looked up. Elder Collins immediately knew what I was looking at. We just stood there in the middle of basically a field for five minutes looking at the stars. What a testimony not only of the great power of God but of his tender mercies as well. Sometimes you just have to take a break look up and soak it all in. 

Thank you for the recipes. 
I love you and we will see you next week.
Love,   Elder Rucker

p.s. My return date is a secret muahahahahahahahahahahahahh. 

October 27, 2014

Hey Mom,
This week was an adventure.  On Tuesday I said goodbye to all my friends in Buenos Aires. I was sad to go. I learned a lot from the people and the members.

Wednesday, I traveled all day. We started our journey from Medellin to Monteria at 9:00 in the morning and got to Monteria at about 8:00 at night. It is an 11 hour bus ride. It was weird at first—we were in the mountains then after a while, rolling hills and finally flat lands. For the first time in my mission I can’t see the mountains. 

Thursday, my first full day in Monteria was not too bad. It was hot and humid but all right.

You know how when it rains a lot and the street outside our house floods a little? Well, on Friday it rained just a little bit and flooded the whole street. There was a creek in the street!

We had stake conference this weekend and it was super cool. They did a broadcast from Salt Lake. Elder Holland spoke and a couple other general authorities.

There are the highlights of the week.
Love, Elder Rucker

"For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" 1 Nephi 20:10. This scripture is really great to explain where I am at.  Just follow the link and then scroll down a bit and do a little converting of temperatures and you will see why. 
Apart from being a great scripture to explain where I am at it is also a great scripture with a great teaching. If you notice the word "in the".  God does not always wait until after the trial. He acts when we are ready, most of the time "in the" middle of our trial.  

Cool video to watch when you have lots to do.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

Hi Mom,
Well, this week was a good week.  Yesterday we got our transfers. I have been in Medellin for more than 7 months and now I am headed to the coast. I will be in a city called Monteria. The coast is the hottest part of my mission. I will be living in 80-95 degree weather for awhile.

In my time here in the Buenos Aires Zone I have learned a lot. I have loved my time here in Medellin. The people here are amazing. I can’t wait to get to know the people of the coast. I hear great things about them. My companion will be Elder Collins, he was my second zone leader, when I was still in Manizales. I will be his last companion. It will be great. 

There are the highlights of the week. Next week will be an adventure.
Love, Elder Rucker

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 13, 2014

Hi Mom,
Really quick review of last week: One, we went to a big rock called the "Piedra de Peñon".  We went with basically all the missionaries who are working in Medellin.  There were about 60 of us, I think. Not all are in the picture. While heading to the rock we stopped at a petting zoo. It was cool. 
Two, we got invited to a bible class. It is basically a meeting with a bunch of religions. We discuss the bible. We share doctrine. The guy who invited us is the host. He always says when we start that we do not dispute or fight, we just share and learn together. 

This week: Once again we went to the bible class. And this time the host asked us to talk about where we go when we die. So the first thing we did when we started our discourse was pull out the Book of Mormon. We talked about the spirit world and then the three kingdoms of glory. After we spoke a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church spoke about their belief of life after death. It was really cool. Maybe we don´t share all doctrine or points of view but we all still felt the spirit and learned together from the scriptures.

Today, Monday, we went to "Parque Explora" a park to explore science.  It was really cool and we did a lot of cool things. We went with a family from our ward. 
And another thing we did in the middle of the week was MOVE. We finally found a house in a nicer part of Medellin. The house we had was good and safe, but it was next to a busy road. So we found a nice new house in a nice quite neighborhood.

Love you, Elder Rucker

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 30, 2014

Hi Mom,
Things are going good here. Every day is an adventure. And we are  plugging along at full speed. 

This week when we had lunch with a member, we went up to the top floor of the building where he lives. We had a great view.

Every Saturday we play football with all the members and investigators who want to play. This past Saturday not very many people showed up, so we bought pizza!

On Thursday we had interviews with President and Sister Pitarch. Everything went well.

That’s all for this week. 
Love you,  Elder Rucker.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 22, 2014

Hey Mom,
There are many responsibilities of a Zone Leader. The biggest ones are be an example, be attentive to all the needs of the missionaries in the zone (health, materials, etc.) and interchanges. We work a lot with other missionaries so they can learn from us and we can learn from them. 

Cool story. The ward I am in goes really high up the mountain. So high, that every 15 days when we eat lunch with the Jaramillos we play with snow. Can you believe it? I play with SNOW!!!!!!!!!!! 

This week we had lots of meetings. On Wednesday, we had a meeting with all the Zone Leaders, Sister Leaders, Assistants to the President and President Pitarch. The meeting was all day. I learned a lot. After the meeting we played soccer. 

On Friday, we had another meeting. This time with President Pitarch and President Mantilla. President Mantilla is the stake President of the Stake that I am in.

We are planning to move in these coming weeks. There are many reasons we are tired of living in this house. If we move this week, I will send pictures next Monday.

On Sunday, we had another meeting. This time it was with all the ward mission leaders (leaders of the missionary work). Another responsibility of a zone leader is to be a bridge between stake leaders and missionaries.  

I love you so much.
Love, Elder Rucker

p.s. I am sorry if you went all crazy when you read that I played with snow. But the Jaramillo Family has a dog named "Nieve" which in English translates into snow. Funny right? You should have seen your faces. HAHAHAHAHAHAH

p.s.s. Another cool story. I have been working out so much that I was contracted to be a model. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 15, 2014

Hi Mom,
Things are going good here. Transfers are over and Elder Mansilla, my old companion, is gone. He no longer is in Colombia. He arrived in his home on Thursday. On Tuesday, I had to transport around Medellin the three missionaries in my zone that finished their missions. They were excellent examples for me. They were only in my zone for a short time but I learned a lot from them. 

The very same day on Tuesday I found some very interesting trees. They are growing on the side of a building. How Neat is that?

My new companion is Elder Gómez, he is from Mexico. He is 20. He, just like my past few companions, is finishing his mission. He only has 3 months left. 

This past week I finished my journal. That's to say that I ran out of pages. So I have to buy a new one.

A missionary returned from his mission on Thursday. We went to his homecoming to show our support and to talk with him a bit. His name is Elder Molina. He served in Paraguay. 

Everything is going good here. Steady as she goes.
Love, Elder Rucker

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 8, 2014

Hey Mom, 
   This week was really busy and today as well. My companion and I have lots to do. I don’t have much time to write.
The most important thing this week is that my companion, Elder Mansilla, has finished his mission. He was a great companion. My new companion will be Elder Gomez, he is Mexican. I have heard great things about him and I am excited to work with him. He will arrive in Medellin tomorrow. 
   Right now I have to go. Next week I will send a letter with more details of this week and the week that we are starting. 
I love you.
Love, Elder Rucker 

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 1, 2014

This is just a part of a talk that the Apostle Marion G. Romney gave in the April 1980 General Conference.

"I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness."

I know his word to be true. If families apply his teaching they will see a change for the better in their family.  Share this and invite to participate in Elder Romneys challenge. 

Love, Elder Rucker
p.s. link to his talk

September 1, 2014

Hello Mom,
Well this week was another great week. My companion had a birthday yesterday. We had two birthday parties for him. One during lunch and the other one in the night. After the birthday party in the night, we left the member’s house and that is when they attacked him. It is tradition in Colombia and in other Latin American countries to throw eggs and flour on the head of those who are having a birthday. That is what happened with my companion in the night. Egg and flour all over his head. It was really funny.  We are entering the last day of my companion here in Colombia. He will be returning to Chile next week but this week is his last full week as a missionary. 

Next week I will be sending you photos of everything.
Until then, Love Elder Rucker

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 25, 2014

Hello Mom,
This was a good week. On a couple of occasions my companion and I had to literally run! More than once this week we were late so we had to run to make it to our other appointments on time. We got a few weird looks and I can imagine why: two young men in white shirts and ties running down the mountain. I really want to know what they thought when they saw us. 

On Sunday, we passed by a less active member’s house to invite them to go to church with us. When we got to their house, they were just barely waking up. The mom said she still had to make breakfast, so my companion and I cooked their breakfast so they could focus on getting ready. We made what is called "agua panela" and "arepa". After they ate and finished getting ready we all headed for the chapel.

I finally took a picture of the welcome message in the neighborhood of Pablo Escobar. The quality is not too good because I took the photo with our cell phone. But now you have the proof. 

Copy and paste the link and you can look around a bit.
That’s all for this week!  Love, Elder Rucker

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18, 2014

Hi Mom,
This week was full of what Nephi calls "tender mercies" (1 Nephi 1:20)

1) One day we were walking and a group of youth called us. Usually we don't stop to talk to them because they just end up saying bad things. However, when they called us we stopped. We didn't know why but we did. And sure enough, they just ended up saying bad things. So my companion and I said good-bye and started walking. Not 30 seconds later a lady called us over. She said, "I saw you guys talking with that group of youth and knew you were the missionaries. I am a member but I have been inactive for a long time. I want to return to the church." In that moment we knew we were supposed to talk to the youth, not for them but for the sister who saw us. If we had chosen to keep walking and not talk to the youth, she would have never seen us. God works in mysterious ways.

2) You might remember a couple letters ago I talked about an inactive member named John and how he contacted us and how he went to church for his first time in a long time the Sunday after our first visit. Do you remember him? Sadly, he attended on Sunday and then the very next day, on Monday, he passed away. My companion and I were very shocked when we heard the news. We had to sit ourselves down a long while to process everything. Another thing that was sad was that he was the only member in his family. We were going to teach his family. But we didn't get to know them before he died. Then when he passed away we wanted to talk with them and help them through the passing of John, but we had no way of contacting them. This week, my companion and I felt we should do a surprise visit with an investigator. As we were walking a young man walked up to us and said, "I am the son of John, I want to know more about my Fathers religion". In that moment, the rest of John’s family came up to us and started talking to us. Now we are going to start teaching them!!! The Lord inspired us to visit an investigator so we could find John’s family. Another "tender mercy"!
This week was grand!!!
Love, Elder Rucker

Batman is not part of the Avengers, but I am in Colombia and nobody cares!