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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dear Family and Friends, Well its been a great experience having Elder Rios as my companion. Being with him has also made me realize how grateful I am to live in the United States and for the most part always feel safe. Elder Rios spent much of his life in the Jungle in Columbia. His family was forced out of their home and property by gorilla war fighters. They then had to go live in the streets. When he was nine years old he had to carry messages from family to family across the jungle warning them of the coming gorilla fighters and ´´recruiting an opposition.´´ They lived with a lot of fear it still continues today. He told of experiences with the ´´Black hand´´ which are civilian police officers who go around and kill all of the gang members and criminals or anyone supiscious out in the street past 1 am. Its a completely different enviroment than from what I grew up in. He went off to live by himself at the age of 14 years old and entered into college at the age of 15. He wanted to get out of the bad enviroment so he worked really hard and finished high school by 14 and then has been studing geology for the past three years. He is a living example of how people that grow up in difficult circumstances can make it and dont make excuses for their circumstances but trusts in God and goes to work. It makes him a very successful and hard working person and I really respect him for it. He´s a great person and a fantastic missionary. I want to throw a shoutout to my brother who is turning 17 this coming week and to tell him how much I love him and look up to him. He is everything I want to be and didn´t make the mistakes that I did. He is my hero and I couldn´t ask for a better brother. I hope you all have a super week! Love ELder Brian Passantino