Monday, November 24, 2014

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Some of my family who were able to greet me at the airport.

Still working on a blog for my last week in the mission. I will try to complete the post and add several pictures of our trip to the temple and other activities our last few weeks. However, my parents wanted to share some of the pics from the airport.
We all served in the Peru Lima West Mission together --
one last picture together after we arrived in Utah.

We left Peru at 1:30 AM (Lima time) on Tuesday, November 18th. After a 7-hour flight, we arrived in Atlanta for a 2-hour-plus layover. There were 22 missionaries that left Peru that day. However, in Atlanta, we said goodbye to some of the other missionaries as they caught connecting flights to other states. There were about 12 of us who continued on to Utah. We arrived at 1:07 PM on Tuesday, November 18th. 

My brother, Alex, couldn't be here as he is serving as a missionary
in Nicaragua, but my parents, younger brother, and sister were there, of course!
We stopped for lunch on our way home from the airport, and of course, I chose Cafe Rio. I had been craving a pork burrito with enchilada sauce for about the last 6 months. 

Some of my cousins who met me at the airport.

Later that evening, my parents accompanied me as I met with the Stake President at 6:30 PM, where I was released. After we got back into the car, I took my name tag off, and we all cried together a little bit. Good to be home, but I will also miss being a missionary and working with the wonderful people of Peru.

Mission accomplished!

Monday, November 10, 2014

El Castillo de Chancay, Animals, and Another Miracle

One of the members in Chancay we visited.
Wow, so this next week will be my last full week wearing the Plaque... I've got to enjoy it!

Holding a cui (similar to a guinea pig).
So, this week I finally got the package that my parents sent me on September 13th! It was filled with Halloween stickers, candy, some cards, and copies of my cousin's blogs. I just gave the stickers to some other, younger missionaries that are still going to be here next Halloween and they were pretty happy. The reason it came so late is because Serpost has been on strike for over a month, and so there were no letters or packages until this past week. So ya, glad I got one more package before I came home!

Holding a conejo (rabbit).
Last P-Day, we went up to Chancay, and Hermana Hyer visited a few members and then we went and visited the castle there. Super cool! There are some legit old things there, but also some touristy stuff that wasn't quite as cool. It was still lots of fun, though! We also got to see lots of animals this week (other than the usual stray dogs and cats). I held a cui and a conejo, and we also saw a monkey. Pretty cool, right? However, not all the animals were fun. A few days ago, we went to look for some more less active members to visit. We found their address in the Ward Directory and made it to their house. They actually live behind this big house in a little shack, but a huge ugly dog also lives there, and he seriously tried to eat me. I was so lucky I didn't get bit! The worst is that we had to go back the next day, and I was so scared to go to their house that I started shaking and even teared up. Luckily, the owners grabbed the dog so it couldn't attack me as I passed by to go in to their house, but it started growling really loud. We're also going to go back this week at least twice, so wish me luck!
A monkey!!

Balloon Animal Madness
I was also looking through my stuff and I found the stuff to make balloon animals that my parents sent me in the MTC, so we made a bunch of balloon animals and gave them to some of the children we were visiting. Also, one of the daughters had a traditional dance show she was getting ready for and I took a picture of her in her costume.

A traditional dance show costume
I feel like this past week God has been blessing us so much! He has given us so many lessons to teach and new investigators. I think He is giving us these opportunities to teach and see how far we've come. Out of all the things we do as missionaries, I have to say that teaching is my favorite. Sometimes the lessons don't go as planned or I feel so nervous about inviting someone to be baptized or repent, but the Spirit is just so strong during the lessons and He helps us know what to say. I love teaching people about the Gospel!

Last night we had a little miracle. We contacted a lady in the street named O., and she told us that she had heard the Gospel when she was younger, but had never been baptized. So, we did a Family Home Evening with her and 5 of her 6 children and her niece. Before we could teach them anymore than that, though, we told her that we had to ask permission from her husband to teach the family. She told us she was sure that he wouldn't want anything to do with us because his family is JW, but that we could come by when he was home to ask him. So, last night we got there and he didn't want to come out, but we just asked if we could present ourselves and ask his permission to teach his family, even if he didn't want to listen. So he came out and we told him how we really respect fathers as the head of the family and that we would like him to know what we're teaching his family. After that, his attitude changed and he sat down for the lesson, and even asked us to teach him about Joseph Smith. We are super excited for this family. So we arranged to teach them as a family when the father is home on Sundays, and we'll just stay in contact with the family during the week. I really hope the next missionaries in our area here can help them continue to progress and eventually be baptized!

This Sunday is the Primary program at church, and I get to play the
piano for them. Cuteness!
Hermana Hyer and me, trying to cross the Finish Line
with our heads held high!
So yeah, Hermana Hyer and I are trying not to be too trunky. We're getting out everyday and looking for people to teach. It's pretty great and we want to enjoy it the most that we can! But like I said, God has really been blessing us every day. This last week was the best week that we've had as a companionship. As long as we stay busy, we don't think too much about home. It's just the nights and mornings that are hard -- ha ha. Last night, I couldn't sleep for a really long time thinking about home and all of my family and how I just want to give them all a huge hug! Ok, enough cheesiness. This week we've been working hard, so we just need to keep it up for a few more days. We've found lots of new investigators and I know we can find a few more before we head out. We're going to leave the area better than we found it! Friday we get to go with President Archibald to the temple and lunch and shopping and stuff. So I just really need to make it until Friday -- ha ha.
Hasta la vista baby!

El Castillo de Chancay
The castle also houses a museum with pottery, mummies, and animals.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sand, Dia de los Muertos, and Cui

First off, my parents asked me and my brother, who is currently serving a mission in Nicaragua, to compare some of our experiences. I would say there are some similarities, but also some differences.

BugsIn my mission in Peru, the bugs generally haven't been too bad. Lots of fleas. However, now that I am here in Huaral, which is more rural, I am actually having some mosquito problems. I'm allergic to the bites or somethings because every time I get a bite my leg swells up. But I'm putting on lots of bug spray every day (I knew I brought it with me from for something!) and now I only get a bite or two every week.

Peruvian Spanish: I'm really lucky to be serving in Peru because the Spanish is really good. Sometimes they mumble, or they don't have any teeth, but normally I don't have any problem understanding them now.

Cat Calls on the Street: Ok, so every single day at least 10 men whistle or cat call or yell things to me and my companion as we're walking down the street. I am pretty much used to it by now and I can ignore it for the most part. I think the funniest experience I've had is when someone actually started singing to me about my eyes -- ha ha. I was so embarassed!

The view from the hills above the sand dunes.
Having a picnic in the sand dunes. I think we ate more sand than rice.
Walking Everywhere: Lots of walking, but now I'm used to it and it doesn't bother me too much. I think I'm also not bothered by it because I already liked to run before my mission. I think the area where I did the most walking was in Prolima because there they had lots of hills and stuff. I saw Alex's pics of the dirt streets and run down houses in Nicaragua, and it reminded me of the barrios in Prolima. In Prolima, I saw more places like that than in any other area of my mission. And actually, I feel like it was the best area to work in because the people are just so humble and giving. You'll have to read his blog to see what he thinks on his mission.

Hermana Hyer and one of the Elders.
Not a whole lot new for me this past week. Last Monday for P-day we went to some nearby sand dunes. On our way, we bought some chifa and took it with us to have a picnic halfway through the hike. I think we ended up eating more sand than rice, but it was still pretty good. The Elders kind of got lost (they had hiked there before), so we ended up walking up and down the hills and we didn't have time to go all the way to the dunes. So, we just stayed where we were and played some frisbee and long jumping. I had sand everywhere by the end of the day!

The piano classes are going pretty well. I left the students a homework page and they seem to be getting it. Unfortunately, I think I'll only be able to teach one more class before I leave to come home, so hopefully they can remember the things I've taught and be able to play a little bit.

Playing frisbee in the sand.
On Halloween, we couldn't really do any activities that night becuase lots of people in Peru think it is of the devil, so we did a Ward Mission Night at the church and played pictionary-charades. Lots of families came with their kids all dressed up and we had candy and refreshments with them. It was a lot of fun!

More sand.
The next day (Saturday) they celebrate the Day of the Dead in Peru, which we don't really observe in the States. Well, we set up a table outside of one of the cemeteries with folletos (pamphlets) and things, and a sign that said ¨Lo veré otra vez?¨ At first, no one came over, but over time curiosity brought many people over. The Elders in the ward were there with us and we were all able to do some contacting inside and outside of the cemetery.

Yesterday, our pensionista, Hermana Liñon surprised us by making cui (gerbil)! I told her that I would kind of like to try it before I leave because it's a typical Peruvian food. However, I told her she shouldn't tell me what it is until after I had already eaten it. So, yesterday she brought out my plate of food, and at first I thought it was chicken. As we started eating, I realized it definitely wasn't chicken, and I started to notice everyone was kind of acting weird. They just kept looking at me! So I figured it had to be either cui or rabbit. After I finished everyone was like, "Guess what you just ate?" I guessed it was cui, and we kind of laughed. I decided it was great, and I was doing fine with it until Hermana Liñon took the cui head out of her bowl and started making it talk to me...yuck! It was definitely something I'll never forget!

So that's about it for this week. Working hard and loving it!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Piano Lessons, Training Meeting, and a Few Trunky Goals

Saying goodbye to Tatiana as she leaves on
her mission next week.

So, this week was really bad numbers-wise, but really good spiritually. Like these last couple of weeks, all of our appointments fell through and no one wanted to listen to us. I think here in Huaral, they're a little more wary of religions and don't want to get involved. However, I have faith that we'll be able to find more people to teach. We just have to get out more and work harder. We had lots of meetings this week, which was partly why our numbers were so bad. 

Not sure why, but our pension was babysitting
a bird this past week.
I started to teach piano lessons and it turned out pretty well. The children in the branch are actually practicing for their Primary program and the Primary president asked me if I would help them to rehearse. Since no one had showed up for my piano class, I decided to help out. After the rehearsal, a number of people had come late for the piano lessons, and all the Primary children stayed after their rehearsal to learn how to play. There actually turned out to be quite a few people who came and as far as I could tell they understood what I taught them. Then, on Sunday, a few of the Primary children came up to me and wanted to show me that they could already play the song I taught them because they had been practicing. I was so proud of them! President Archibald also came to our branch on Sunday and after Sacrament Meeting, he asked if I could teach some piano lessons to the branch members because the meetings seemed so different now that they could sing with someone accompanying them on the piano. I was proud to tell him that we had already started doing the classes!

We also had a really good capacitacion (training meeting) with President Archibald on Friday. We left Huaral early in the morning on a bus and travelled up to Ventanilla. Our two zones were able to learn a lot about policy changes, how to focus our missionary efforts, and the Second Coming. So good! After the meeting, we had interviews with President. In my interview with him I was able to talk about lots of the goals that I have for when I get back home and what I'm doing to help the branch before I leave. I learned a lot from him and he gave me some really good advice. He told me it's ok that I'm thinking a lot about when I go home because now is the time to plan. Not gonna lie, some of my goals are trunky, but President told me he'd help me with those goals when he gives us the marriage talk during our exit interviews when we're going home ha ha.

I ran into Hermana Morales at our training meeting.
She is now a Sister Training Leader and doing great!!
Eating yummy food at our pension's house.
On Saturday our zone/district had three baptisms and it was nice to be able to feel the Spirit there. Even though I haven't had many baptisms in the mission, I really like to go feel happy with the other missionaries and their converts.

That's about all that's happened this week. It wasn't a bad week, but there is definitely room to improve. On the positive side, only one dog barked at me this week (the wild dogs are definitely not as bad here as they were in Lima). Hermana Hyer's mom told her that we have to run to the Finish Line together, even if we have to drag each other a little bit. I think we're both trunky and tired, but we still have the will to work and leave some investigators for the next missionaries. I know we can do it!

A cool sign that we walk past most days.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fifteen Minutes and Mas Chacras

Hermana Hyer, Tatiana's sister, and me
Me, Tatiana, and Hermana Hyer

So this week was a little frustrating because everything we had fell through. We ended up walking a ton with little success. So, we've talked about some things we're going to do so that this week turns out better. Now it's a new week and I'm ready to get back up and do better. Since we've finally had a normal Sunday, we also got to meet the ward and now we have some plans of what we're going to do to help the ward and ward council as well. One of the members, Tatiana, is a joven in our rama that is leaving on her own mission this coming week. She and her sister have been a huge help to us this last couple of weeks in getting to know our area and more of the members. We're super excited for her.I'm excited for this week because I'm going to start teaching piano lessons here to find more people to teach and bring the ward together. Lots of people have said they're going to come, so I have high hopes that we'll get some good references from the classes.
On P-Day I found this cuy in a Peruvian outfit.
Super funny! I loved it!

We did have one highlight this week. On Saturday, everything we had fell through and we were walking to find a member in the directory when we saw a young family walking through a park. We went and talked to them, made sure they were married, and then made an appointment with them for Sunday. So yesterday, we went by at the time of our appointment, but no one answered. We tried calling them, but the phone was always off. After a few minutes of knocking, we decided nobody was home and left a note on the door. Well, President Archibald taught us to start knocking on neighbors' doors and ask about the family to help contact them. As we were knocking on one door, we heard a sound from the first family's door across the street, and someone came out! We went back over and talked with the mother, then she went inside and told the family that we were outside. When the family finally came out, they were at first a little reluctant to talk (busy, sick child, etc.) but we asked for just 15 minutes and they let us in. It was just a short lesson about how God loves us and we must pray to Him, but the Spirit was definitely there and strong. In the end, the father told us that they've been having lots of family problems, and that we came to their home like angels. His prayer at the end of the lesson was so sincere. We have another appointment with them tonight and we're excited to teach them about the Restoration.
A surprise picture of Hermana Hyer during our service project.

We also had a service project this past week painting a member's home. It was fun to serve and get to know our zone/district a little better. By the way, our zone is so small that it's also our district. There are only ten missionaries total in our whole zone!

I need to take lots more pictures these next few weeks because there are some pretty parts of Huaral. It is nice to be out of Lima and in a little more rural area. Here in Huaral, they actually produce a lot of the food for Lima, so there are lots of chacras (crop fields) and irrigation streams.

I had to laugh a little bit this past cambios. A lot of the new sister missionaries that are arriving in our mission are telling me how much they loved reading my blog! It's kind of funny because they already know a lot about me -- ha ha! Thank you so much to my parents for helping to keep it ip during my mission. Lots of people are reading it, and that in itself is missionary work as well.

Anyway, that is about all for this week. I'm just trying to work hard and enjoy every last minute of the mission.
Hermana Hyer and two of the Elders in our zone/district.

Me and some of the other missionaries in our zone/district.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Surprise Transfer and Itinerary Revealed

Me and Daniela and her daughter,
 a dear friend we were working with
 on reactivating her to Church in Los Olivos.
I LOVED conference! It was so great! I especially loved the Saturday morning session! They are doing some burning down there in the conference center and I bet the people in the first few rows went home without eyebrows! My spiritual batteries have been recharged and I'm ready for more work. I loved President Packer's talk and the Seventy that talked right after him (sorry I don't remember his name and I don't have my notes with me). Follow the prophet and your leaders! Don't let yourself fall into apostasy! It was such a great conference! I just loved the Saturday morning session so much! Know what else was cool? I listened to the Spanish talks in Spanish and I understood everything! Yay!
A huge NdH that we did with the Pacheco
 and Salas families before I left Los Olivos.
They are so great and I'm going to miss all
of my friends in Los Olivos.
So I know we're supposed to be super spiritual missionaries and everything while we're watching General Conference, but we were talking during one of the choir songs, and Elder Lansing, is our zone leader and he's super funny. We saw a lady with really big hair singing, and Elder Lansing said, "Are you from X-men? Because your hair looks like it's mutated." We were laughing so hard!

So I got transfered! I was so surprised because I thought for sure I was going to "die" (finish my mission) in Los Olivos. It was such a great area and ward and I'm really sad that I only got to be there for one transfer. But on the bright side, I actually get to be outside of Lima before I finish my mission! Now I'm in Huaral, a little branch to the north of Lima. It's nice because it's actually a little more green here! It even sprinkles rain sometimes, and we're close to the ocean, but it's not in our area. And guess who my companion is? You'll never believe it! Hermana Hyer from the MTC! Isn't that just crazy? We don't know why we were put together, but God must have a reason. We're actually re-opening the area here in Huaral, which was closed for a transfer. So, we don't really have anything to work with, but we're working hard to hopefully have some baptisms before we leave and leave some baptisms for the next sisters.

I'm going to be trying to enjoy evey minute that I have left in Peru! I see all the wild dogs, the dirt, and the old buildings. We have a pensionista here that cooks really good and we're enjoying the food too (I just hope I can still lose a little more weight before I come home). Since I'm with Hermana Hyer we have to try hard not to be too trunky. Our zone leader and district leader are also finishing this transfer to we've got to help eachother out to keep working hard.

So, the pics that I sent are of the huge NdH that we did with the Pacheco and Salas families before I left. I'm also there with Daniela, a less active that we were working on reactivating. They are so great and I'm going to miss all of them!

I'm so excited that Alex is in Nicaragua! I'll get to talk with him on Mondays a little bit now! I hope he's doing well and can adjust to living as a missionary in Nicaragua. He still hasn't answered me in Spanish, but I usually write part of my letter to him in Spanish and he says he understands it, so that's good. I think he'll do fine with the language, he'll just need a couple of transfers to adjust.

Hermana Hyer, Hermana Pinto, and me at cambios.
So I got my itinerary today! Yay! The only bad thing is that I'll be home on Tuesday, November 18th, instead of on my birthday (which is November 17th), but that's ok. I just really hope I don't get egged before I get home! I'll be a double target because not only because of my birthday, but also because I will be finishing my mission. I should get home at about 1:02 in the afternoon on the 18th. Super excited!

Anyway, that's trunky talk ha ha. Since I'm with Hermana Hyer, we have to try really hard to not be trunky. We can't talk too much about home or anything. It's also funny because our zone leader and district leader are also going home this next transfer. This has got to be the trunkiest zone in our entire mission! Anyway, we're actually all working hard and doing our best. So, yeah, a pretty crazy week, but I'm doing pretty good.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Elections, Conference, and Brownies

So this week, we finally got moved into our new apartment. We hope we never have to move again! It was a lot of work, but now we're pretty comfortable and the apartment is really peaceful. There is plenty of space and we're pretty comfortable, especially since it's an apartment set back away from the street and it's super quiet. We've slept pretty good. We're super happy!

It was so weird with the elections here in Peru, which were held on this past Saturday and Sunday. According to the law, no one is allowed to be in groups or have meetings on Saturday and Sunday until after 4pm. But you know what? I'm pretty sure the only group obeying that law is the Church of Jesus Christ! There were so many religious groups and parties and organizations having meetings. Well, at least we know that we obey the 13 articles of faith and respect the law of the land! As a result, we didn't have any church meetings, and President Archibald wouldn't let any of the missionaries watch Conference (some of the members could watch on the internet in their own homes). So we get to watch it next weekend at church.
Family Home Evening with the Pacheco Family

Yesterday, because of the voting, we had almost no appointments. So, we decided to try one of our ways to find, which was play the violin in the park and contact. When the Bishop and his family found out (they own the violin), they wanted to participate and they called the ward choir to come and help out. It turned out to be a lot of fun and helped bring more members of the ward together. We played in the park for about an hour and the Elders in our ward were able to contact a family and are going to teach them. It was a great experience and we're thinking about doing it again this Sunday a little earlier so that we have more success.
Our trio is getting split up today!

We love the Pacheco family! They are so great and really want to help us. We had a couple of Family Home Evenings, one with just them, and another with a less-active sister. It was a lot of fun. I even showed them how to make brownies! They LOVE brownies down here in Peru!

Today we find out about cambios. We know for sure that the trio is getting broken up, but we don't know who is leaving. I really hope that I get to stay here for my last transfer! I love this area and I don't want to change!

So, just working hard and loving it!