Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Merry Christmas in Peru!

Spending time with Karen's family on Christmas
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!! For Christmas, we visited with Karen and her family first. We played with all of the kids and had a great time. They even gave us hats! 
Christmas hats from Karen's children

Me and Aurora

Next, we went to Sol and Aurora's house to visit with them. Their street had lots and lots of beautiful lights and we walked around to see them all. We also ate really yummy food! Turkey, mashed yellow potatoes, something similar to potatoe salad, apple sauce, and of course rice. It was yummy! I was also very grateful for their help Skyping home to my family. It was so great to hear my family's voices and see their faces! 
Christmas lights on Sol and Aurora's street

Our Christmas feast with Sol and Aurora 

I had to show off the T-shirt puzzle
that I finished. Thanks Grandma!

Well, I still haven't received 2 of my Christmas packages from my family. I know that at least one of them is in Peru because I had to sign for it already. Either the Mission Office needs to go and get it for me still, or it's in the offices and the zone leaders need to pick it up. I really hope I get them soon! However, I did receive a christmas card from Grandma Olsen and Lynn and Kristi, and I opened up Grandma Langford's gift and solved the puzzle on the shirt. Thank you everyone!!

Well, in reality this week has been probably both the best and the worst of my mission so far. The worst because no one was home or wanted to talk to us. Almost all of our citas for the entire week fell through, and we were left walking around and calling everyone to see who we could visit: investigator, less actives, recent converts, and contacts. Well, our numbers are really low this week. However, it was also really good because I am learning so much with my new companion. She really is super strong and has such a good attitude. She always wants to serve others and do our best to bring the Holy Ghost into every lesson. She has been a great help to me and has helped me regain some of the missionary spirit that I felt I had lost. While this week was hard, it was also a great learning experience for both of us, and we learned some good lessons that will help us be more successful next week.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

New Companion, Hot Chocolate, and Christmas Eve.

Saying goodbye to Hermana Larsen
We were asked to have our Preparation Day on Tuesday this week, probably because of the Christmas holiday, so the post is a little late. Tomorrow for Christmas, I get to talk to my family, which will be fun.

Well, we had transfers this past week, and sadly, Hermana Larsen is being transferred to Huacho. I will be staying put, and now I have a new companion! Her name is Hermana Morales, and she is from Vera Cruz, Mexico. She has just begun her mission, so I am training her. She is super awesome! She doesn't speak english, so we are helping one another with the idioma.

Me, Karen, and Hermana Morales

I was grateful to be here in my area still for Karen's baptism. It was beautiful, and she is so happy. Her family is having us over on Christmas Eve, which should be a lot of fun.

The stake invited all of the missionaries for un chocolatada, which is paneton and hot chocolate. Can I just say that the hot chocolate here is the best I've had in my whole life? So good! However, it is a little weird to be drinking hot chocolate when it is so blazing hot outside. They tell me that it will get even hotter in January and February.
Enjoying un chocolatada -- yummy!

We helped one of the members in our area, Hermana Mirla, decorate 100 cupcakes for an event she was doing. It was super fun!

We also had our Mission Christmas party. Because of the size of our mission, only the missionaries from the southern half of our mission were present, and that is a lot of missionaries. It was a ton of fun. We each brought a small gift to exchange, each zone put on a skit, we sang songs and ate lasagna, which was so good. At the end, we had a devotional. It was amazing, and I even got to see Hermana Jones again.

Me and Hermana Morales
frosting cupcakes
Lots of missionaries at our Mission Christmas Party

One of the members has a pet turtle. Cute!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Baptism, the Beach, and Mission Hazards

Hermana Larsen, Kristen's mom, her brother, Kristen, and myself
The big news this week was Kristen's baptism. The week was pretty stressful, but the baptism was super great and beautiful! Kristen was super awesome and she was all ready. We were initially a little nervous about her entrovista because she is super timid and shy. When we began to teach her, she was so shy she didn't want to talk to us, only listen. After a few lessons, she opened up. However, she had to go in for a baptismal interview with Elder Almazon, our District Leader, and so we were hoping that she would be able to talk with him. I think it went great, because when they came out, she was smiling and excited for her baptism. Her mom, who is less-active, came, as well as her dad, who is not a member and not really in her life. It was super cool to see everyone come and I know that she felt lots of love. Her aunt helped us prepare and decorate, and her uncle was the one that baptized her.

Me, Sol, and Hermana Larsen
On Saturday morning, there was a Stake activity to clean the beach in Ancon, and all of the missionaries in the stake went and helped. It was super fun and it was nice to go to the beach and do something a little different. In my group we had us, the Elders, Sol, and Yuan Carlos, who is recently returned missionary.

Cleaning the beach in Ancon, Peru
Here in Peru, our ward is having a Christmas Party this next Saturday, and it is actually a Talent Show. Nothing ever gets planned here very well, so we will see how it goes. We are planning on having Karen's baptism in the afternoon on Saturday prior to the party, and we're hoping we can finish before things start getting crazy. We really want the spirit in the baptism and make it really special for her. A lot will depend on cambios, which happen this week, and I hope I don't get transferred. We'll see.

My parents asked me if I have had any experiences with fleas, dogs, and cuys (guinea pigs). Well, I've already had fleas once, and it took a good couple weeks to get rid of them! I had to get all of my clothes and blankets cleaned and/or ironed before I could sleep in peace! There are lots of wild dogs, and I have discovered that I actually have a pretty big fear of dogs. Luckily, Hermana Larsen loves dogs and isn't afraid of them at all, so she protects me! If one is barking at you, I have learned you don't run, just bend down and pretend to pick up a rock and they will start to back off. I know that I NEVER want to ride a bike here in Peru, because dogs will chase you and bite at your heels. As far as food goes, the weirdest things I've had to eat is liver and a dish comprised mainly of the fat that you take off of the meat, which was super gross. Fortunately, I've had good pensionistas, and not too many 'ugh' moments when it comes to food. And yes, cuys are guinea pigs, which everyone here says are super good to eat and they always want us to try one. People actually raise these for food, just like chickens. Fortunately, cuy is expensive so we haven't been served any yet. My favorite foods so far have been aji de guina and tyerines verdes, which I know I just spelled wrong.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Service, Perspiration, and an Anniversary

So, we currently have two investigators preparing for baptism: Kristen and Karen. Kristen is being baptized this Friday! Yay! We are super excited for her and she is so ready to be baptized! However, today we got a call from Karen asking us if we could stop by her house. We were nervous because her baptism was planned for this Saturday. We went, and it turns out that she has a cousin that recently returned from his mission who wants to be there and baptize her! The only thing is, he lives far away. So, she asked if we could postpone the baptism until next week on the 21st. That is a really good reason to postpone a baptism, so now we are helping her prepare for the 21st! We are a little relieved because she still has a lot we need to teach her, and now we have more time to do it and make sure that she understands and has a sure testimony of the gospel. 
Hermana Larsen helping make hats
This week, we have really felt the Spirit as we taught Karen and Kristen to help them prepare for their baptisms. Yesterday, we needed to teach Kristen about the Law of Chastity. We were really nervous at first, and we began slowly. Then, Kristen comes out and says, "My body is a temple!" We smiled and were so glad that she understood what we were trying to get at. It's little moments like that where we realize that the Holy Ghost is speaking to the hearts of our investigators and helping them understand what we are saying.
Super cute hat!
Also this week, I have learned more about the power of service. Giving service to ward leaders really helps them build their trust in you. We helped the primary president, who is the bishop's wife, prepare for the primary program which was yesterday. We helped make the handouts, gave notes to the less actives and investigators with children, did a little decorating, and played the piano for the program. She is really glad for our help and has given us many references of less actives and investigators. We also helped a recent convert make her hats and costumes that she sells for the new year. She has fallen really behind because her husband, who was also recently baptized, has been very ill. We helped her and talked with her and her husband, and she feels the love that we have for them.

Check out the candle on Elder Sandoval's birthday cake!
Elder Sandoval had his birthday this past week, so we celebrated by making tacos at their pensionista and singing happy birthday! The candle on his cake was freaking awesome! He was a little scared of it though -- ha ha!
It sounds like Utah has been pretty cold, so I am glad I'm here in Peru! Although, it is getting pretty hot now! Some days, we just sweat all day! No one here has air conditioning, so we all just kind of smell bad together -- ha ha! Since we don't have snow here, I decided to make some snowflakes for our apartment! Yay! I actually kind of miss the snow! I got grandma's present on Tuesday, and it had some Christmas scarfs in it! Super cute!

This Thursday, it will have been one year ago that I opened my mission call to Peru. It seems weird that a year has already flown past. Crazy to think about! The people here are awesome, and I am loving the members and investigators in my area more and more. I really don't want to change areas before Christmas. I am just super loving living in an apartment finally! I really hope I get to enjoy it for more than two weeks as well! Also, now Karen is getting baptized on the 21st, so they better not change me to another area because I really want to be there for her baptism!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Moving On Up, Birthday Re-Do, and the Sign of a Good Missionary

Moving into our new apartment

Notice our Christmas Tree up on the wall.
Our new kitchen
First off...we finally moved! We found an apartment and we moved into it on Saturday! It is super nice and actually in our area!!!! We are super happy...the only down side is that cambios (transfers) are in 2 weeks and we're pretty sure one of us is leaving. One of us will only get to enjoy living in the apartment for 2 weeks after looking for a place for 4 months! Oh, well, we are just happy to finally be in our own area! It has one big room, a bathroom, and a kitchen. We can hardly wait to get some kitchen stuff soon so that we can actually cook for ourselves. We'll see when it happens, but we hope soon. We also decorated the wall with a Christmas tree! Hermana Larsen's family sent her a paper tree with all of the ornaments that have different sayings. It's super cute! It's makes our apartment feel more like Christmas!

Me, our friend Pilar, and Hermana Larsen
We are sad, but happy, because one of our really good friends here in the ward, Pilar, is leaving on her mission this Thursday. She is studying at the CCM here in Peru and then going to the Trujillo Mission, I think, until she gets her visa to go to Venezuela. She is super awesome and has accompanied us lots for teaching appointments. She is going to be an amazing missionary!

This past week, we were eating lunch with our pensionista, Hermana Mirla. She is super awesome. She was asking us questions about when our birthdays would come up. Apparently, she didn't know that my birthday was last week! We thought we had told her, and she was sick on my actual birthday, so we didn't see her that day, and we thought it had just slipped her mind. Apparently not! She was mad that she didn't know and told me that she was going to celebrate my birthday again, and this time the right way -- ha ha.
Happy Birthday one more time! The Elders, me, and Hermana Larsen.
So, yesterday (Sunday), we went to her house and we ate delicious food. She let me choose what I wanted to eat, so I asked for my favorite food that she makes...tyerines verdes! So freaking delicious! Then, she made me a cake and decorated it with majar blanco! It was super cute and super nice of her! The Elders also came over and they ate fish...yuck! But, they really enjoyed it!

The incredible view from the hill in our area.  What a hike!
So, the baptism dates that we have for this month are still holding strong, and we are getting to know our area even better. Pray for us to find new people to teach that have been prepared by the Lord, and that our investigators will hold strong to be able to make it to their baptism! Yesterday, for Fast Sunday, we fasted as a zone for all of our investigators that have baptismal dates, and also for those investigators that we want to have dates in the near future. It was really great and made us feel closer as a zone.

Yesterday, we went with the Bishop's wife, Hermana Sarah, and her daughter to get to know some less actives that live on a hill in our area that is really hard to get to. We definitely did some major hiking, but the view was beautiful! As a result, my shoes are definitely starting to die! It's a good thing my family is sending me a new pair for Christmas, especially since they don't have my size in Peru. Curse my big feet! My father told me that the sign of a good missionary is how worn out their shoes are. At this rate, I'll need one or two more pairs to last me through the end of my mission!!
I had to throw in a picture of
my tan line!! Woot! Woot!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Great Leaders and Cupcakes

My new skirt and a new Peruvian scarf.

I just wanted to start off again by thanking everyone for the birthday packages and letters. Thank you so much! I love all of the chocolate, books, letters, and love. With some of the money from my Grandma, I went and bought new speakers because mine are dying, as well as a couple of cute scarfs. Yay!

Hermana Larsen was super great and bought me pickles and peanut butter for my birthday -- ha ha! I'd been wanting a pickle peanut butter sandwich so badly, and those two things are super expensive here, but Hermana Larsen surprised me by giving them to me for my birthday!

Hermana Larsen approves of
pickle peanut butter sandwiches
Our neighbors, Sol and Aurora, who are recent converts,
gave me these gifts for my birthday. I named the toucan 'Roy.'

Yay for Thanksgiving! Not sure if they really do anything down here in Peru. It might just be a holiday in the USA. Well, maybe Hermana Larsen and I will eat potatoes on Thursday to celebrate -- ha ha. It would be nice to make a pumpkin pie, but they don't have pumpkins here whatsoever! They don't even know what a pumpkin is! Craziness, they don't know what they're missing out on!

Yup, still living in the garage and walking 20 minutes to get to our area. We're also still getting to know a lot of the members, but one thing I have found is that a great, caring leader makes all of the difference. In the current ward I am serving in, they didn't have a Young Women's president for over 3 months, and there were only about 3 girls coming each week. Finally, the bishop called a new president, and last week, there were at least 8 Young Women that came! It is amazing how much difference a great leader can make.
This is the bishop's wife, Hermana Sarah, and Hermana Margarita
at the Relief Society cupcake activity.

We were also able to finally make cupcakes with the Relief Society sisters. We had visitas de trabajo that day, so Hermana Agle was with me. It was lots of fun and we had some investigators and less actives come and join in the activity. It was great! Yummy!
Me and Hermana Agle making cupcakes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Computer Troubles and Election Day

Sorry, I'm almost out of time because of all the awesome birthday wishes. Also, the computer won't recognize my flashdrive so I can't download any pics this week of the cupcake activity or anything until next week! I was able to get some of my birthday money, so today I get to go buy something in Plaza Vea for my birthday! Thank you to both of my Grandmas! Fortunately, I didn't get pelted with any eggs for my birthday, but our next door neighbors, who are recent converts, knew it was my birthday and gave me presents. They are so sweet!

Well, like I was saying last week, we found a new apartment, but we couldn't move in yet because the mission didn't have the money ready. So, we waited until Wednesday to hear something and then called them to ask when we could move. The Mission Office told us that night that the money was ready. So, Thursday morning we go get the money, start to get things in order, then call the landlord to tell him we want to move in on Saturday. The only problem is that he's already rented it out!! How rude, right? So, anyway we're looking for an appartment again and we're still living in a garage 20 minutes away from our area. We haven't had any luck so far this week, but we're going to keep looking. I really hope we can find somewhere else soon!

This week, we had the opportunity to find two people that have been prepared by the Lord to be baptized. So as of right now, we have two fechas. The first, Christin, is scheduled for the 13th of December and the second, Karen, is scheduled for the 14th. Christin is a 10-year-old girl whose parents are less active, but goes to church with her grandmother. She wants to be baptized on her birthday, the 13th, and so we are going to help her be ready for that date. Karen is the mother of 3 children. One of her sons, who is 10, was recently baptized with his aunt. Because her children go to church and want her to come with them, she has decided to investigate the church. She has seen how the gospel has blessed the lives of her family, and so now she has accepted to prepare for the 14th. We are super excited for them both! Please pray for them to be ready for their baptisms!

This next Sunday is Election Day for all of Lima, and everyone has to vote or they pay a fine. All of the church meetings have been canceled and I was told that we are probably not going to be able to leave our apartment that day. Interesting, right? We'll see what happens, but I'm super OK with having a day to study haha! There never seems to be enough time. The sad thing is that we have to wait an extra week for our investigators to be baptized because they need to come to church at least twice before they can be baptized.

Well, that's all I have time for this week. Thank you again for all the birthday wishes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

New Area, New Pensionista, and Celebrating My 6-Month Mark

Well, we started working in our new area this past week. So we're learning where people live and who our new investigators are. Unfortunately, we're still living in our garage apartment in the old area, which is a 20-minute walk to the new area. However, we're hoping to move out of the garage and into our new apartment this week. We'll see how it goes. The apartment is really nice and has a kitchen, so I am super duper excited to live there.

So in my new area, we've been trying to find members and get to know them. One thing that really improved our relationship with the Relief Society President was that we asked her if she could be our pensionista. She accepted, and so a few days before we went to her house to pay her and explain the details. When we knocked on the door, she was really stressed out. We saw that she was rushing to get platters done for her catering business. One of her clients had called only a couple of hours before asking for all of the food. She had a lot to do in only a little time. We offered our help, and talked with her while we helped prepare little sandwhiches and plate food. She was very grateful for our help, and after we had delivered the food, she took us back and talked to us for a little while. She really opened up to us. Now, when we go and eat with her, she told us she is grateful for the opportunity she has to serve us and that she recieves lots of blessings in her family when she does. This was a strong testimony builder of how service can open up the hearts of people and allow us to help them. One of our goals in our new area is to look for all of the leaders and find a way to serve them.

My language skills are slowly coming along even though I don't always realize it. A few days ago, I finished reading El Libro de Mormón for the second time since a I started my mission! By reading El Libro de Mormón, my grammar has improved a lot. My new goal for language study is to learn new words through my textbook. Hopefully I can learn new words that will help people understand me. Yesterday, we were having lunch with some recent converts who are just awesome and cook amazing. We talked during lunch about lots of different things not gospel related. Afterwards, I realized how far I've come in the language since I started my mission. I can have real conversations with people! Wow. My aunt and uncle even sent me a card and wrote it all in Spanish, and I could totally read it, which felt super awesome.

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes. It feels weird to think that I'll be turning 22 next week. Right now, I hope I don't get egged on my birthday! Sometimes the missionaries do on their birthday. I'll let you know. Also, this week the Relief Society will be having an activity where I will be teaching how to make Red Velvet Cupcakes! My parents sent me the recipe and I have it pretty much translated, so hopefully I can explain it to them ok. It will be fun to make cupcakes again!

And on Friday, I celebrated my 6 month mark! Yay for chocolate cake!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy Halloween from Peru! A Rescue, Transfers, and Big News.

We painted our nails orange for Halloween.
This year for Halloween, I totally dressed up! I was Hermana Larsen! That's right! I wore yellow and orange and black and pulled my hair up like her and we switched name tags. Our zone had to go to the bank that morning, so Hermana Larsen and I gave them all candy and waited to see how long it took them to notice we had switched. It was pretty fun, and most people didn't notice and kept calling me Hermana Larsen. Those who did notice thought it was pretty funny. Happy Halloween! That same day after the bank, Hermana Larsen got four packages! Three from her family and one from a friend. One of the packages was filled with candy and stuff for halloween. We ate some of it, but mostly we are giving lots away to some of the kids in the families we're teaching. They think it is the coolest thing ever. I actually did eat quite a bit of chocolate on Halloween, thank you very much! Yum!

So some people do celebrate Halloween here in Peru. We did see lots of little kids dressed up and going from tienda to tienda asking for candy in some neighborhoods, but it wasn't a huge deal here like in the States. However, in some parts of town, they don't like to celebrate Halloween because they think it's like worshihping the devil or something, so some tiendas had signs up saying not to come by because they 'love Jesus.' It was an interesting night. Since our zone was going crazy with cambios and we were trying to look for an apartment, Hermana Larsen and I went with the Elders in our ward and the zone leaders to a pizza place for dinner. We were all pretty tired, so it was fine.

Hermana Larsen with our new cell phone.
This week, we had some less active members come back to church. Francisca and her husband and son came to sacrament meeting because they wanted to have their infant daughter blessed. We had been trying to have her come to church for a while, but she and her family wouldn't ever come. Finally, we were inspired to tell her about baby blessings and how it could bless her daughter. She said she wanted that for her daughter. Saturday, we stopped by her house and told her if she wanted her baby blessed, she needed to come to sacrament meeting the next day. Hermana Larsen and I were super excited when right before the meeting was about to start, her and her husband and son walked in. We told the first and second counselors that we needed their help to bless the baby, and they willingly gave a baby blessing to the beautiful little girl. After sacrament, the family stayed for the other meetings. In Relief Society, Francisca got up and bore her testimony about how she knew that she needed to come back to church and that she knows it is true. She is very different now than when we were first visiting her three months ago. We are so grateful for the opportunity we have to teach her and her family and help them come back to the church.

Part of our morning exercise routine!
Well, last Saturday we had cambios (transfers) announced, and now it is official that Hermana Larsen and I will be staying together for another transfer! Yay! Tomorrow, we are officially giving our area to the Elders and we are taking over the Elders' area. In the past week and a half, we have found 3 great families to teach. You're welcome, Elders! Other than that, we are just trying to find a good place to live in the new area, because our garage is a good 20 minute walk from the edge of the Elder's area. It will definitely be a lot of walking.
I think this dog sign in the park is freaking hilarious!

And finally, the big news is...

Our mission finally has cell phones! Woohoo! Now I feel like we will be super efficient and be able to get hold of lots more members and investigators. I am super excited!

A funny thing happened last week. Hermana Larsen and I went looking for shoes in some of the nicer shoe stores in a shopping mall in our zone, and I found out that I am a size 42 or 43. Guess what? They don't sell women's shoes higher than 41 in Peru. Holy cow my feet are huge! When my shoes wear out, I'll definitely have to have my folks send me some from the States.

Since we're leaving our area tomorrow, we took some pics of us having fun in the park during morning exercises.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Guided By the Spirit and Faith is Like Mangoes

This week, I had some experiences that really strengthened my testimony that we are guided by the Spirit. Saturday morning, all of our citas fell through, so Hermana Larsen and I were walking, we had the thought that we should go and visit a house that has two investigators in it, a mother and her daughter. Normally they aren't home during the week, but we decided to just go and see. It turns out, the mother was home. At first she seemed reluctant to let us in, but she told us we could share something for ten minutes. We went in and she started to cry and told us about how she is having difficulties with one of her daughters and is really worried for her family. We were able to share with her about how God loves her and her family, and all she needs to do is pray for guidance and strength to be able to overcome her challenges and soften the heart of her daughter. THe spirit was super strong, and I know that she felt it touch her heart. Now when we come to visit her and her family, she is happy to see us and lets us in right away.

These are the Elders we are switching areas with. Here we are working
together on the balloon animals for Paulo's birthday party.

Last Sunday, we were running a little late for an appointment with a family. So when we got to their house, nobody was home. Just as we were about to leave, one of the daughters in the family showed up, but she didn't have time for a lesson. We were talking with her for a few minutes, when one of the counselors in the Young Women and two young women came up. They were out visiting young women in the ward who are less active (because there are many), and we were able to introduce them to our investigator, Katrina, who had come to Church that day. We were also able to take them to the house of a less active family that has two daughters in Young Women's that they didn't know about. It was meant to be that we were in the right place at the right time in order to show them where some young women lived in the area. The Holy Ghost is always guiding us to where we need to be, we just have to listen and have the confidence that He will use us to further the Lord's work.

Later that same day, we went and had a Noche de Hogar with the same less active family. The Mom and three of her seven children are members. The Dad and the other little kids aren't members, and so we'd been trying to meet him and help them come back to church and baptize one of their kids who is 9-years-old. Last night we were finally able to have a lesson and the Dad was there! He told us about how the Elders had come to his house two years ago and helped him and his wife get married. He bore his testimony about marriage and how it has blessed his family immensely. He told us that he just about got baptized with the Elders, but then they were transferred and he never did. Since the Elders will have our area after this week, hopefully they can work with him and help him get baptized this time around!

Anyways, we had a Noche de Hogar with this family, and since they have lots of little kids, we shared a short lesson. We told them about faith and how it is like a seed that we can help grow. The kids starting asking about what kind of fruit it would be. It just so happened that earlier that day, we had been given mangos by a less acitve member and we still had them in our pockets. We pulled them out and the kids thought it was an awesome surprise! It was perfect for the lesson, and now the kids will always remember how faith is like mangos!

Missionary Craziness on the Bus (see me in the back?)
So next Saturday, we have cambios (transfers), and our Mission President already told us that he will change our area so that now the Elders will have our area and we will have their area. It is probably a lot safer that way. The Elders found a house in our area, but so far we haven't found anything in their area because we haven't been able to go up to the Elder's area to look. The ward is helping us, though, and we might be able to live in a small house! That would be awesome! I really hope we can have an oven so that I can make cupcakes! Anyways, we'll see how this next week goes. Have a happy halloween chilling and watching movies! Eat lots of candy for me!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hermamientos, President's Interview, and My Crazy, Blond Hair Helps Again

This week, I learned how important it is to have members in the lessons. When we have a member present, especially one that can be a hermamiento, we can see a difference in how the investigators and menos activos respond to the compromisos. They are much more likely to complete their compromisos. When a member testifies of how a doctrine or commandment has blessed their life, or even just bear their testimony of Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon, there is a lot of power and the spirit is so strong. Having a member in lessons is much more powerful.

I also learned that we really don't know who will be baptized after we first meet them. I had the opportunity to go back to El Olivar with Hermana Solis for exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders. Of the people that I met while I was there, four of them had been baptized, one of which I helped find when I was there a few months ago. Those people that we had dropped or had thought wouldn't progess had made the changes necessary in their lives to be baptized, and it was really amazing for me to see the difference it had made in their lives. Sometimes we really won't know who will change their lives to live in accordance with the gospel, so we have to work hard with every single one of our investigators.

Last Monday, we had a pretty crazy day. We were enjoying our normal Preparation day activites, playing games with the zone, eating food, and going shopping. We got back to our apartment at about 5:00, and saw that we had missed two calls from Pres. Archibald and one from Hermana Archibald! We called back and he asked us to come in for an interview in an hour. We quickly changed and hopped on a bus to get to Metro.

We had a really good, long interview with Pres. Archibald. He has been calling in everyone who hasn't had a baptism since he arrived in the field. Hermana Larsen and I are both on his list, and so he went over our area with us, and we talked about some of the things we can change and improve on in order to help our area progress. He gave us some really great advice and showed us some of the resources that we didn't know we had to help us find part member families. These next couple of weeks, he's going to be talking with the leaders in our stake and ward, and making changes in the boundaries of our area. It will be super exciting to see some of the changes that will be made, and we are going to be focusing even more on part member families in order to help us find people to teach.

I've decided that on Halloween I will eat candy to celebrate! Oh, I do miss all the yummy fall soups, desserts, and carving pumpkins, but I'll get to see how they celebrate here. Peruvian food is really good, but I would kill for some homemade cheese and broccoli soup with pumpkin pie for dessert! On the other hand, it's getting hot here and soup doesn't really sound good all the time, so I guess I can wait.

One thing about it warming up and the sun coming out is that I am definitely getting tanner and my hair lighter. People here are crazy about my blond hair. They really like to akwardly stare when I walk by, so that's kind of fun. One good thing did come from my hair, though. When I was on exchanges with Hermana Solis back in El Olivar last Friday, we were walking through her area when we saw some people staring at us from the second floor of a house. Hermana Solis decided we should contact them. They are super nice and want to hear more about the Gospel. We asked why they were staring at us and they said it was because of my hair!  So maybe I can use my blonde hair to help us contact people...we'll see!

Anyways, lots of really fun stuff for Halloween! I totally made decorations and I am going to eat lots of candy for Halloween. Hermana Larsen and I decided that we're going to swich our nametags and be each other for part of the day Halloween. It will be fun!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Example, Balloon Animals and Halloween Decorations

Riquel and her son, Paulo. What a cutie!
Yesterday, I learned how the little things that we say and do can affect the life of another. Sometimes, we don't know who is watching us and studying the quality of our lives in order to learn how to change their own lives. The young adults in this ward are amazing, and without realizing it, we have helped more than one of them want to come back to church, live more righteously, and even serve their own missions. It has been a great experience to work with the young adults and learn from them as well, because they are so strong in their families and have amazing testimonies. Even when we don't think we're really making a difference, people are taking note of what we say and how happy we are, and this example can help them want to change their lives for the better.

This week has been pretty routine. One fun thing is that we were able to give some service for Riquel for her son Paulo's birthday. He's turning one, which here in Peru is a huge deal. They do lots of over-the-top stuff for a child's first birthday. Anyway, we helped clean and decorate and sala for the party. She didn't have a lot of stuff, but my parents had sent me a package in the MTC that contained some balloons and instructions on how to tie different animals out of the balloons. So our district made a bunch of balloon animals for the party. It was super fun!

Just trying to bring a little
"Halloween spirit" to Peru
I made some Halloween decorations for our garage too, and I bought some candy at Tottus! Growing up, my Mom always decorated the house with festive Halloween decorations and I realized I really wanted to have something festive up here! It's a work in progress, but little by little we'll be ready for the holiday.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Noche Misional y Servicio con un Machete

At the Noche Misional: Jynette and Melanie are twins who
are recent converts, and between them is
their friend (and our investigator) Nichole.

During this past week, we were able to have a Noche Misional (Missionary Night), and about 40 members, menos activos (less active member), and investigators came. It was a great experience, and I think everyone had a good time. We are super grateful for the help we had from our ward mission leader and other members in the ward to make it really great. This ward is amazing!

At the Noche Misional: On the left is Sol, a recent convert,
 and Sharon, an amazing member who comes with us
 all the time and is preparing to serve her own mission
General Conference was great this past weekend, but listening to it in Spanish was definitely an experience! It was really hard in parts to know what was going on sometimes, but overall I was able to understand most of it, and I took some really good notes! I totally sang the hymns in English, though! In order to watch on Saturday, we went to a ward building in the zone leader's area of San Diego, and on Sunday we went to our ward building. Hermana Larsen and I went down in to the offices during the last session and watched it on the computer in English! It was really nice to listen in English and have to try so hard to understand, and just enjoy it. I loved the talks by Pres. Uchtdorf and Nelson!

Here, it is now warming up a little bit, and there are some days I can go out without my jacket! It's nice. Hermana Larsen and I decided that we're going to make some Halloween decorations for our apartment! This morning I made a little ghost and put it on our wall -- ha ha!

Pulling weeds around Hermana Carmen's patio.
This past week, we had three less active families that we wanted to focus on. We had looked at our list of ward members, prayed, and then chosen three families that we didn't know who they were, but that we wanted to visit. Our goal is to activate each one of these families, and help them feel welcomed back into the Church. We were able to contact each one of the families during the week, and even find some new investigators through them. This was a great experience for me in trusting in the Holy Ghost to guide us to where we need to be, and who we need to visit.
Trimming, raking, and gathering debris
 in Hermana Carmen's yard!
Using a machete is a lot harder than it looks!
Don't try this at home.

Our District also performed some service from Hermana Carmen, who lives in Shangri-La with her daughter and granddaughter. We had passed by her house before and we are trying to reactivate her daughter and granddaughter. Her family has a little money, so she owns a hill and she also has a little restaurant inside her home. Her house reminds me of the United States a little bit because she has a yard and a patio. 

No one here has a yard and a patio! 
Anyway, we helped her clear out lots of weeds, trim her trees, and remove some bushes.

Monday, September 30, 2013

My First Llama and 'Bailando Mi Trompo'

Guess what!? I saw a llama!!!! I saw my first llama in Peru! If I hadn't been running late for an appointment, I totally would have stopped to pet it...oh well, next time!

In my current area, I have really learned how important the members are for missionary work to succeed. When we have the help of the members to go with us to lessons, to help invite less active members to activities, and to befriend investigators and help them come to the chapel, there is a huge difference in the ward. There is much more success in reactivation and church attendance.

This past week, we were able to talk to several less active members that have been a little standoff-ish since we got here. It was really great to finally be able to talk with them and begin to see their needs. In fact, there is a young adult in our ward that when we got here, she and her family weren't coming to church at all. We began to visit with her and her family, and we had the help of another young adult to invite her to activities. She began to come back to church and to ward and young adult activities, and yesterday, she told us she wanted to serve a mission! It's really amazing to see the change in her, and we are super grateful for the help of the young adults in our ward. They are awesome!

I am really curious to see what they do here in Peru for Halloween. I'm starting to think that they don't do anything super fun like in the states for Halloween. I have seen a few tiendas with a couple of costumes, but that's about it. Regardless, I will definitely buy some Halloween candy, and if we don't get any trick-or-treaters, than we'll just have to eat it ourselves -- ha ha. What is Halloween without some chocolate? Maybe I'll make some decorations for our apartment.

We're still looking for another apartment, but no success yet. Although we had transfers last week, I'm still staying in Prolima 2 with Hermana Larsen. Almost everyone in our zone stayed the same, and we welcomed another set of elders to our zone. With all the new missionaries coming in, we can have even more missionaries in each ward. Anyway, we are really hoping to find something soon. We really want to cook for ourselves for breakfast and dinner, because we are really sick of rice and most the time we aren't even hungry at night because people like to give us stuff. Anyways, still looking.

My little sister asked me what I do in my spare time here. Well, I don't have a whole lot of spare time, but when I do, I have lately been practicing "bailando mi trompo." This roughly translates to "dancing my top" (the toy, not an article of clothing). I got one of those awesome toy tops like my Uncle Joel got when he was a missionary in the Philipines, becuase all the kids in Peru play with them too. I can get it to go sometimes, and I hope that I can get good at it before I go back to the States -- ha ha. Sometimes, I also work on my notebook that has all of my pictures in it, kind of like a scrapbook for my mission. It is coming along. Occasionally I draw too, but I haven't drawn in a while. We went running a couple times this past week, and we'll run some more this week, but we usually only have about 10 or 15 minutes to run. However, I enjoy the time I do have to run!

Sorry, almost out of time. I just wanted to share some of what I learned this week. I learned that I have been incredibly blessed in my life to have such great parents and a loving family. I am so incredibly grateful for my parent's examples and all the work they do for me and my siblings. I know that when I get married, I want to marry someone who is 100% committed to the Lord, becuase then I know that life will be ok no matter what. I want my kids to have a good example in their father, and have a good example in me. I can see the difference good parents make in the lives of their children, and I want to give that to my kids. Thanks you so much to my parents and my grandparents too.