Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Well, only 2 more weeks to go before I come home. This week was a little tough. We had a lot of appointments made for the week but almost all of them fell through. At the end of the week we had less than 10 lessons. So, needless to say we walked a lot this week. But we still kept at it even though we didn’t have the amount of success we were hoping for. But that’s happens sometimes I guess. Perhaps it could be that because I’m getting close to ending, the Lord just wants to test me to see if I stay strong and work hard until the end. But my companion helped me a lot in motivating to keep going and visiting houses. But now I just hope that this next week we will have some more success.
As for Thanksgiving, we didn’t really do anything here. I just kinda gave a woot for Thanksgiving and that was it. Seeing as how I’m the only American here, no one else really took it into importance but that’s all right. I guess we can show our thanks every day in how we act.
Other than that, this week has been a mix of on and off cold rains and beating burning bright sun. Kinda weird weather. Every day I felt like I was just constantly taking off and putting back on my jacket. Supposedly, it’s a little more dry than it usually is around this season. A lot of people have told me that here in Espinar, that about this time of the year, they start to get a bunch of rain. Like days where it’s just raining all day and all night but we still haven’t seen much.
Well I don’t really have too much to write for this week seeing as how we didn’t visit too many people and nothing has really changed. However, on Saturday, we set up the Christmas tree in our pensionista’s house so that was pretty fun. But that’s about it for me! I’ll be seeing you guys in a bit!
Monday, November 23, 2015
Well this week was pretty fun. First off on Tuesday and Wednesday, we had Family History lessons in the chapel the whole day. It was kinda funny, though, because a senior couple came to teach it but they can’t talk Spanish so I had to be there with them all day for both days to translate for them but they were some pretty fun classes and we were able to do a lot of work with the members and send a lot of names to the temple. The couple who were working with us were the Johnsons (no relation to your family) but they know a lot of information about Jacob Vernon Hamblin that I never knew and so whenever we weren’t helping or teaching someone I was just asking about him. But as far as the weather, we had a few days of just burning sun and then the clouds came back but ironically, like Washington, we had some really bad winds on Saturday. But yes, Espinar is really actually a lot higher up than Cusco. Here in the mountains it’s like the higher up you are the more barren it is and the lower in altitude you are the more tropical and jungly it gets. That’s why Macchu Pichu is partly like a jungle because it’s actually at a lower altitude than Cusco. Also in our mission we have several zones that are jungle like Quillabamba and Puerto Maldonado. However, I’ve never been to those zones. My mission has been more focused in the high altitude plains. But to be honest, I much rather prefer a winter with freezing weather back home than the half freezing dry weather that I’ve seen in the majority of my mission. Plus at least back home we get snow. I miss snow. And our Christmas is cooler.
Speaking of Oakley, Whitney messaged me this last week saying that she hopes that I don’t hop on the cat train like everyone else has done but I still am excited to see Oakley even though I’m still a dog dude. I still have not received my travel plans so I’m thinking today I’ll email the office to ask them about that. Normally I thought that you receive an email right about when you start your last transfer but I don’t have anything.
You know, it’s actually ironic that you talked about not judging anyone last week and this week. Last Monday was the Espinar anniversary with the parade where a bunch of people were dancing and it was really cool. However, later in the night I had to take one of the elders to the hospital for a test he had to take and when we got there we saw our young men’s president smoking and drinking. We walked right past him because he was in the entrance but we didn’t say anything to him. I can imagine he probably felt pretty weird, though, seeing us. A few days later we informed the bishop but he told us that he had already gone to him to confess. So it all worked out in the end. But like you said, more than anything I just felt sad for him but knew that he has his weaknesses like we all do.
I was asked a while back how we can answer someone who tells us that they know that their church is true because they have received an answer from God. But I was thinking about it a lot and this is my answer. The Book of Mormon is either true or it isn’t. And the only way we can find out is if we follow the invitation that it has to read, ponder, and pray, with real intent, a sincere heart, and faith. I have come to know and feel that when we have a testimony of this book, we can never leave the church because we know it’s true. Regardless of our trials and tribulations, it is our anchor in the storm. But to just end this part, I just want to leave my own personal testimony of the truthfulness of this book and I’m sad that I didn’t focus on reading and studying it more before I came out because I have found many scriptures that have helped me with problems and doubts that have come my way and I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to read and study this Book to try the challenge to verify if it’s true.
But before I forget, as far as the baptism went, it was good. Saturday morning was when we had planned his baptism and I swear every time we have a baptism, the power always goes out. So he had to be baptized in cold water but he was ok with that. It was also funny because he asked our zone leader who interviewed him to baptize him. So Friday the zone leaders came down to do divisions with us during the day and then Saturday morning after the baptism they left. But everything worked out fine. Sadly, I’m pretty sure that was my last baptism in my mission but at least I can go out good.
As for my toilet seat, we just use our broken one still. Something new I saw this week was the parade last Monday because it focused on traditional dances of Peru. I have a few videos of it but they aren’t that good but perhaps it’s on YouTube. You might be able to find it by searching Corso de Espinar 2015 or aniversario de espinar 2015. But it was pretty dang cool. The yummiest thing I ate this week is a pastry that they eat like crazy during this season called "paneton"; it’s also known as "passover bread (pan de pascua)" But it’s a fluffy sweet bread with soft fruit candy and raisins. They also make a chocolate chip version that’s really good. However, as far as a Christmas pastry is concerned, I still prefer your cranberry cake.
But that’s about it for me this week but I love you all and I hope you have a good week también nos vemos en algunas semanas!
Con mucho amor,
Monday, November 16, 2015
Well this week was pretty normal; we just had a lot of rain. It’s not like it was even raining very hard but it was raining for a good majority of the days this week. But as for my investigators, not much has been changing with them. 2 of our investigators are progressing really well but they are only 12 years old and we can’t baptize them alone until they are 14 and so we are working with their parents so they could get baptized together but the big problem is with the parents’ work and so they normally can’t come to church. But hopefully we will see some changes in them. We are also still working hard in finding new investigators. The goal is 20 news for the month (or 5 news every week) and so far in November, we have 9.
I can’t remember if I said this last week but the president gave us a promise that if we go to less active members and focus on talking about their baptisms that they will be more likely to give us a reference of someone (most likely a family) that will progress. So far it looks like we are starting to see that. For example, we talked with a less active family this week about their baptisms and asked for a reference. They gave us one of their cousin and her family but told us that she is very hard and direct and that if we contact her she would probably just tell us that she belongs to another religion and doesn’t want to talk to us. But we went anyway. We were able to talk to her and she was ok with taking out an appointment with us for this next week so that was pretty cool, hopefully she will listen to our message and progress. But other than that, we have a baptism planned for this Saturday with the dad of the Yuca family (Victor Yuca) and we called him this last week and he says that he is still excited to go through with it so at least if all goes well, I can have 1 last baptism in my mission. With the rest of our investigators, there are still little things that are halting their progress. But I think that at least 2 others will be baptized in the transfer after I go home. But we also have a few rescues scheduled before I go home so that will also be nice. But I think that’s about it for those who I’m teaching.
But I did hear about the terrorist attack in France, our pensionista told us about it. But man that really is pretty dang sad. I’m kinda surprised however that they didn’t have better security at a concert. Normally it’s big group events like that that are the targets for terrorist attacks. I heard that they also closed down all the airports in France for a bit.
But the thing that I did this week that has strengthened my testimony was a fireside that we had yesterday. It was only for the elder’s quorum but it was really good. One of the counselors of the stake presidency came down to talk and we focused on the power of the priesthood and did practices to help the elders with their home teaching assignments. But I really have come to know how important home teaching is here in the mission. A lot of members think that the ward will only progress depending on the missionaries and leaders. But we can really only do so much. It’s important that every member can not only know but also understand that the progress and well-being of the ward really depends on every one of us. If we want to bring people back to the church, we need to do our visits. If we want recent converts to stay active, we need to do our visits. If we want our own testimony to stay strong, we need to do our visits. One of the best ways to feel our Heavenly Father’s love is by serving our fellow man. Because like it says in Mosiah - when you are in the service of your fellow man you are only in the Service of your God- (I can’t remember exactly how it’s worded in English because I mainly read it in Spanish XP )
The thing that brought me the most joy this week was probably being able to find new people to teach. I always like teaching new people for the first time and hearing what their needs are and to hear what they want to learn or take out from our lessons. Then we, the missionaries, can then apply principles of the gospel to meet their needs and help them in the ways that they need. It’s always a fun experience for me and to see how each time it changes in the way we start to teach people.
The funniest thing that happened to me this week was in a lesson, some members invited us to hot chocolate. I don’t know why, but I tried to take off my gloves with the cup still in my hand and in the process spilled like half the cup all over my leg. It was hot. I felt worse for their floor though than my leg because it looked like I was a drunk trying to serve my drink to the floor.
But that’s about all I’ve got for this week. Today is the anniversary of Espinar and so I hear there is going to be a parade and so we'll see if I can get some pictures of that. But until next week, I love you all very much and hope you have a good week!
Monday, November 9, 2015
Well this week has been pretty good but we weren’t able to work too long in our sector because we had a stake conference and zone meeting in Sicuani. But to answer your question, it’s not so much that our area is small, because we are in charge of an entire city and a bunch of small surrounding towns; it’s more of that the church is a lot newer here and the church doesn’t grow like it does in the states. That’s one of the biggest reasons that they don’t split it into 2 small branches because it will suffer more than it will grow so they keep it like it is now so that it can stay stronger.
You know, I think I’ll just give my homecoming talk in completely Spanish, though. XD It’s going to feel weird trying to give a talk in English and especially in front of so many people. Here in Peru, I’ve never given a talk in front of more than about 110 people so in our ward that’s a lot bigger and older; I’m gonna feel weird. Also, I’m glad to know that I’m a full tithe payer even though I’m not there, or make any money. XD At least I’m still being obedient to that.
But that doesn’t really surprise me that people have gotten upset about the policy that the church made. The thing that I think is funny is that I bet you that the majority of the people who are mad about the change aren’t even members of the church so I don’t really know why they would even care if they don’t share our beliefs. And as for those that are members that don’t agree, well, they just have a weak testimony then. I don’t remember if I told you this but when I had about 8-10 months in the mission an elder who was in my group in the MTC wrote a member saying that he was home because he didn’t agree with some of the teachings of the church and that he couldn’t preach something he didn’t believe. I don’t know what things he had trouble believing, but as for me, I haven’t found anything. I feel like even if it came to a point where I go inactive because of my decisions, that I would ever say that this church isn’t true. It’s sad to see people who lose their testimonies but I guess all we can do is have hope and faith that someday they will be able to listen to it again and regain their testimony in the simple truths of the church.
Well, the weather here doesn’t really change that much; it’s just like it gets windy and dry or rainy. Right now it’s just rainy and cold whenever it’s raining. When the sun’s out, it heats everything up super fast. It’s pretty crazy, though, today because I just figured out that in my last week on the Thursday, our zone is traveling to Cusco for a Christmas dinner with the president and other zones of Cusco. We figured that it’s very possible that while I’m there I might just bring all my stuff with me and just stay there until I end to not have to waste a bunch of time and money traveling back to my sector to only be there for about a day and then go back to Cusco on Sunday. But we'll see what happens with that. I just really hope that it snows when I get home. I’ll at least know that there will be a ton of snow in Rexburg (hopefully).
But I haven’t heard from my bud yet where he is going to be living. I also don’t have his email with me right now but I think most important is signing up for classes.
Also, for your questions, something new I learned about myself this week is that I need to work out more here. When we made the biscochos, I got tired super fast. It’s just hard to work out here with the altitude and the cold. Also, I can’t gain weight so that also doesn’t help. My testimony this week has grown in the work with less active members. That’s something we are focusing on right now in the mission and the president has given us some pretty powerful promises if we use half our time in the day to find less actives, talk to them about their baptisms, and then ask them for a reference. I think like I wrote before that we are trying to help them remember the simple things they felt when they were baptized. After all, this is a simple gospel, so simple that a child could understand it. And so I think that’s actually something everyone should do is remember and focus on the simple feelings they have when studying the gospel and usually those will be the most powerful building blocks in our testimonies. The funniest thing that happened this week with me and my comp wasn’t really anything big but while we were making the biscochos we were just flinging the dough everywhere because you have to mix it fast and hard because you have to make the egg whites rise and so by the time we were done, we had a ton of batter on us. Something this week that made me say hmmm was while I was listening to a talk from our president and he was saying that when people disagree with the rules or the teachings of the prophets, it doesn’t mean that they are bad people but it just means that they aren’t obedient and if we aren’t going to be obedient to the commandments, then we aren’t showing our love to the Lord who says if you love me then keep my commandments. Food for thought.
But that’s about it for me this week but I love you guys and I’m glad to hear that all is going well back home!
Yes, the batter flings around when you mix it fast!
Baking the biscochos
The final product
Monday, November 2, 2015
Well this week was pretty basic. The biggest events that happened this week were a Halloween party that we the missionaries did here, and also the baptismal interview that Victor Yuca had and passed. But other than that, nothing big has happened.
As for our investigators, there isn’t really much new that has been going on with them. With Sister Luz Marina and her husband, we tried to make a marriage date with them but we were only able to have them commit to talk about it but hopefully our visit at least helped them be a little more encouraged to do it. Also, we are still planning on putting a date with 2 girls we are teaching. For their parents work, we won’t be able to do much with them for a bit but we are at least working on getting permission for them to be baptized. The 2 are really good friends and want to be baptized and they are coming to a lot of activities in the ward as well as attending but we’ll see what happens with them.
For this next month, we are hoping to be able to have at least 1 baptism and maybe 2 rescues. One is almost definite who is a lady from a family we are teaching called the Yauri family and she has a calling, attendance, and her interview but she just lacks the lessons. It’s just a little hard to teach the family though because they normally only have time once a week but they are really nice and always give us food or candy bars whenever we visit them. With the rest of the family, it will take a little longer to rescue them because one of the daughters and her partner aren’t married but they are living together but they are both members and pretty active at church. The parents, however, are working or traveling a lot and so it’s a little different for them.
But as far as everything else, nothing much has been going on. On Thursday, we had a Halloween party that I thought was going to be a disaster but in the end worked out pretty well. What happened was that one of the elders here was traveling and so we weren’t able to do things as fast as we wanted because we were just a trio for a few days. The elder got back around the middle of the day but was sick and so they weren’t really able to do much. My comp. and I were left in the chapel trying to get everything ready in time when a small lightning storm passed through the city but it was just enough to make the power go out and so we were left in a dark chapel trying to get things ready still in the dark. The bishop told us that the power shouldn’t be out for long which is why we kept working. However, the power was still out at the time that we said the activity would start and nobody had come and we were still getting things ready. I was feeling really stressed at this point that the activity wouldn’t happen and we had gone through a lot of trouble for nothing. However, at about 6:45 - 6:50 P.M., the power finally came back on and we were able to finish preparing everything and people started to come. In all, we had about 30 people attend the activity (which is good for here) and the activity was a success. So that would also be my greatest triumph and trial for this week.
Also the grossest thing that happened this week also had to do with our activity. For a starting game and to be a little halloweeny, we made a big bowl of noodles and just put a bunch of different things in it, also a ton of different kinds of fruit. In the end, the thing smelled like someone ate a fruit salad and then threw it up. We had 2 teams and each had to choose a representative to play and they had to find little eyeballs that we made and put in there but they were blindfolded so they had no idea what they were feeling. It was petty dang gross. At the end of the game, one of the kids that was playing wiped his hands all over my arms. Sadly though, I forgot to take a picture of it.
But that’s about it for this week. But I also have heard of pisco but not that many people drink it here (from what I’ve seen at least). Normally, they just drink beer. The most popular one here is called Cusqueña which actually has a really cool design to the bottle and the cap is a picture of machu picchu. Also today, we are spending the whole day with our pensionista to make a type of bread called bizcochos, which is a type of bread that is traditional to make in the first week of November but this is also the only time they make it the entire year. It reminds me a lot of angel cake because it’s fluffy and sweet but it’s still not as good as angel cake. Also as for the transfers, I am going to end my mission here in Espinar so I’m pretty excited for that. But I love you all very much and I’ll talk to you next week.
Monday, October 26, 2015
Okay, well I’m going to try and keep this email a little shorter because I’ve been using a lot of time getting a few things figured out for college.
Anyway, as for this week, everything has been going pretty good. However, we are finally starting to get rain so it’s been mostly cloudy this week. Because our water heater is a solar heater, our showers have been a little colder than normal. As for your initial questions, my companion is from Trujillo in Peru, he doesn’t even have a year yet but we work really well together. He’s a good teacher and we joke around a lot. He is the oldest in his family and so he’s the first of his siblings to go on a mission. It’s funny though because he’s usually pretty cold here because his home is pretty hot. But also because all the other elders here are Latinos, I’m really teaching all of them English but they are learning really fast. But yea I think I am improving a lot with my Spanish seeing as how I only speak English when I’m teaching them or we are with the rest of the zone and I get to talk to the other Americans there. But speaking of English classes, I also started to teach English classes at the chapel for everyone. This last week there were just a bunch of girls that went which was a little awkward but hopefully we can grow the assistance a little more as we continue to do it and also have some guys come. XD
As for the other activities of the ward, they are not exactly the same because of the size of the ward and the working circumstances of the leaders and schooling circumstances for the youth, but they still hold activities. It’s not the same kind of activities that we have like weekly mutual but at least we are doing them. I’ve been in a lot of other places where rarely the ward holds activities. Also as for our lessons in Quechua, we don’t really talk in Quechua very much. We don’t really have too many opportunities to use it and so the missionaries here don’t focus very much in learning it. We mainly just learn phrases. Normally, if we need to teach someone in Quechua, we just take someone along who can translate for us.
As for everyone we are teaching right now, it’s all going great. We had some good lessons with Luz Marina and her husband Walter and we plan to put a date with them for their marriage. We are also progressing with her mom who came with her this week to church as well as her little sister. As far as the Yuca family, the dad comes home this week and we plan to have his baptismal interview for his baptism next month. We are also teaching a lot of youth who really want to get baptized but because of their parents work, it makes it a little more difficult. But all’s good and tranquil over here. I am a little concerned though. This next week we have changes and I have a feeling that the president is going to put me somewhere else to finish my mission which I have seen him do with a lot of other missionaries their last change. I would really prefer to have my last change here in Espinar though because I really like this sector.
Hey but I’m glad to hear that everything is going well back home and that you’re having fun with your new hobby, and the cat. Who by the way I’m super excited to get to know. But perhaps dad understands a little better now why I love art so much. I just love being able to make things with my own hands.
But yea as for your questions something new I learned about myself this week is my determination. Right now in the end part of my mission I’m starting to feel a little tired and worn down yet even though I feel like that we are still working really hard here and that’s how I hope I will be able to finish off. My testimony has been strengthened this week a lot in family history. Yesterday we had a multi stake conference/broadcast for Peru and Bolivia and they talked a lot about temples and families and stuff. But it made me think of my patriarchal blessing that says in a part the work for the dead is just as important as the work for the living and that it will be included in my callings. It just makes me grateful that in our family we know of our heritage and we have done a lot of work for our ancestors. In contrast I see and teach a lot of people here who many times don’t even know their own grandparents. But the funniest thing that has happened this week wasn’t really anything in particular but we have just been joking around like crazy in our district. There is an elder here from Lima and he is really short and so we always make fun of him for that. (I got to do it while I can because when I get home I won’t be able to do that to anyone). But one time we were talking about Ratatui (the Disney movie with the cooking mouse. I don’t know how to spell it) while he was helping cook and we were referring to how they cook but he thought we were comparing him to the mouse and his size. Plus he was standing on a stool as he cooked so that made it all the funnier.
But yea that’s all I got for this week, I love you all very much and I look forward to seeing you here pretty soon.
Monday, October 19, 2015
Well I guess I’ll just tell you a little of how my week went. Well, first off, last Monday was our zone P-day and we went to some ruins above a little town that are called Machu Pitumarca. They were really cool; we just had to climb up a mountain to get there. They basically look a lot like a bunch of other ruins I’ve already seen but it was kinda cool because they had 2 peeks of ruins. Also everything is still yellow. We also found some kinda kiln or something that looks like a face with its mouth open. I’ll send you a photo of that.
On Tuesday, we just had a conference with the president of the mission which was really good. He talked a lot about cleaning out our cups interiorly to be able to be better teachers in the work. At the end he showed us a few power points of his mission and of his life after the mission. It was a little trunky. Especially because he was showing some pictures of missionaries who have ended and what they are doing right now. I saw a few photos of some of my old companions and other missionaries that I knew. Then we had to travel back to Sicuani that night to be able to be in our sector as soon as possible.
On Friday, we saw a rally race pass through Espinar because Espinar is one of the checkpoints in which they had to stop. We started by watching the winners get into the plaza in Espinar. We then walked way out of the city where they were taking the times of the cars as they were arriving into the city so they were going their fastest at this point. That’s the most people from Espinar that I’ve seen in one place since I’ve been here. We didn’t have any appointments that day and needless to say that basically no one was in their house so we used the opportunity to also contact a bit. However, I forgot to put on sunscreen that day and we were in the sun for quite a long time and I got burned on my face and arms pretty bad. They are now peeling terribly.
However, on Saturday, we had our baptisms! Woot! For me and my comp we just baptized the mom and daughter of the Yuca family and the other elders here had a baptism as well of a girl who is about 14 years old but has been going to seminary for quite a while. It was a pretty dang sweet day. Also that night the Young Single Adults had a movie night and asked us to help out in contacting news who were there. However, it was a disaster because the sound system they brought didn’t hook up to the projector and so they only had very quiet sound coming from the projector.
But that’s about all that happened this week. Oh yea, also we started teaching the parents of one of our investigators. However, the mom doesn’t really understand very well when we teach in Spanish so we had some members with us in a lesson we taught to be able to translate what we were teaching to Quechua to help the mom understand better. As far as the daughter of them who we are teaching, she is progressing really well but she needs to get married. We were able to talk to her boyfriend? (I can’t think of how to call the partner of someone who’s not married in English). Anyway, he seems to be understanding really well what we are teaching and we think that we will be able to have them get married here in a few months.