Monday, July 29, 2013

Commitments, Training Meeting, and Recipes

29 July 2013

This week was actually kind of hard for me. Since I'm still pretty new at this whole missionary thing, I was not expecting a lot of things to happen with my investigators that did. Out of all the investigators we found last week, only one of them is still progressing and excited to hear from us. It made me really sad when the people I had started to care about didn't want to continue to hear about the gospel or keep the commitments. Nora, the picarone vender, has no desire to know if the Book of Mormon is true and is happy with her Bible. She feels that going to church is unnecessary as long as she has faith in Christ. We spent an hour and a half with her trying to explain these things and why they were important, but she still didn't feel any differently. We committed her one more time to read and pray, and we're going to come back to visit her one more time, but she probably won't change the way she feels. It was super sad for me because I couldn't understand why someone would not want to have the blessings that come from reading the Book of Mormon and living the gospel.

On the other hand, Henry is doing awesome! He is totally progressing. This last week, we had a combined lesson with him and another investigator named Marco (that was kind of weird). During the lesson, though, Henry accepted a baptismal date for the 17th! (hesitantly at first, but ok with it before the end). However, Henry heard us make a second appointment with Marco for the next day in the chapel. The next day, Marco didn't show up, but Henry did! He told us he didn't have anything going on and wanted to hear more from us. It was a super great lesson! 

Some of my amigas who come talk to us after they get
out of school when we play soccer at the park on P-Day.
Later that same night, we had English classes for the first time! We had 5 people show up, which is pretty good for not handing out flyers or announcing it more than once in sacrament meeting. They actually knew a lot a English already, and this week we're going to start teaching grammar. Crazy, right? Lots of people here know more English than most of the people we were teaching in New York! (What does that say about the US education system?)

Anyway, back to Henry. We taught him another lesson on Saturday. We were on divisions, so it was just Hermana Solis and I that we supposed to go to his house. We didn't want to go just the two of us, so went to a member's house close by and asked for someone to come with us. They sent out their 21-(I think)-year-old son, Jaime, and at first he kind of didn't want to go. However, once we got into the lesson, he was awesome! If he hadn't already told me he hadn't served a mission, I would have thought he had! It was a great lesson. We talked about baptism and the sacrament, and near the end Jaime mentioned something about the Word of Wisdom. Well, we hadn't taught that yet, and Henry had family coming over, so we left him with a pamphlet on it and told him we'd call him. Well, we called him on Sunday and he told us he'd been reading and praying and felt great, and that even though it was his dad's birthday, he wasn't drinking with his family. Wow, right? We have another cita with him tonight, so hopefully that will go super well too!
Hermanas Training Meeting

Another really great experience I had this week was that we had a Hermanas Training Meeting with the mission president. All the sisters in the mission were there, including Hermana Lind!!! She got here last Wedensday, and it was super cool to see her and Hermana Hyer again. There are 25 sisters in our mission now, and actually more than half of them are North American! That was a surprise to me. Anyway, we learned a lot about contacting people and giving commitments. We practiced giving the baptismal commitment and learned about when we should stop teaching an investigator that isn't progressing in order to spend the Lord's time more wisely. It was incredibly spiritual and I learned a lot! The lunch was prepared by Sister Archibald, and it was an American-style salad and ham sandwhich, and everyone was extremely excited! It was so good! Overall, it was a super fun day!
At the Hermanas Training Meeting, our team came in second place
while trying to build the tallest tower with straws.

I'm getting better at teaching, and if I'm not too tired I can usually participate quite a bit in the lessons. My spanish is not too bad! I actually surprised the mission president during our Sisters Training Meeting by talking with him in spanish and giving a short thought to the sisters. He looked kind of surprised haha! It's totally the spirit, though. Whenever I can feel the spirit I can talk quite a bit and remember lots of words. I love it, and I definitely have a testimony of the gift of tongues!

Last Saturday, the Relief Society held a Pioneer Day celebration to remember the Mormon pioneers. It was kind of interesting, but it made me happy to know it is celebrated at least a little throughout the Church, and not just in Utah. Along those same lines, yesterday and today are the Independence Days for Peru. No really big celebrations in our neighborhood as far as I have seen, although a lot of the roads are blocked off for the parades (although we haven't seen any of the parades). The main thing I have seen is that a lot of the people use the holiday as a reason to get drunk.

Of my MTC roomies, Hermana Jones is still waiting
for her visa in Texas, but Hermana Lind joined
Hermana Hyer and myself in Peru this past week.
I am pretty sure that our apartment is the only one in the mission with an oven. Since I arrived, I've made everyone sizzles a few times and it's been fun! I totally want to try making cupcakes one p-day if I can find all the ingredients. Where we are located, we can't find baking soda or sour cream, which is a problem. On the other hand, it's been kind of fun to see the other girls make things and see how they do it. I have a killer recipe for tres leches now! My favorite food here is aji de gallina (spicy creamed chicken), and their tallerines verdes (noodles with spinach and basil sauce) is super rico too! I'm totally going to buy some recipe books here before I come home!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Picarones, a Baptism, and an Anti-American

22 July 2013

This week has been great! I had so many experiences, I hope I have enough time to write about them all! We found 8 new investigators this week, so things are getting busy.

Last Tuesday, we got up at 5:30 AM and went to help one of our investigators named Nora make picarones. She sells them on the street and we stopped and tried some and LOVED them! We asked her if she could show us how she made the batter, and she said yes! We went to her house and made them, and it was super cool and fun. I have the recipe and I totally want to make them back at home if I can find all the ingredients! Anyway, after we had made them, we shared a scripture with her and talked about how God loves us and is grateful for what she is doing to help her son (who is 10) and her daughter (who is older and lives in Canada and who has cancer). Her husband is in Spain I think trying to get work, so she is alone. In order to support herself and her son while she is also studying, she set up the picarone stand. She was so touched by our message and started to cry! It was the Spirit touching her heart. She agreed to continue meeting with us for lessons!

On Friday, we had the opportunity to teach lesson one to Nora. Hermana Solis wanted me and Hermana Brown, my temporary companion who is on her second transfer, to teach the whole lesson. It was so hard! But it was really good and she could feel that what we were saying was true. She agreed to read the BoM and if she feels it is true she is going to be baptized!

Later that night we met with Alicia, who has been taught by sisters before and never had the desire to be baptized. She let us teach her again becuase she had a brother die recently and she wanted to know where he was now. We taught her about why we are here and where we go after death, picking apart the scriptures to help her understand. She said she felt super good and at peace, like she had never felt when she was taught before. I think she was finally prepared by the Lord to hear His message! She also agreed to be baptized after she learns more about the church! She asked us to teach her about repentance, so next time we will teach her about that.

Then on Saturday, we taught an investigator named Henry. We had orginally contacted his mother, and we came to teach her for the first time on Wednesday night, and Henry sat in and listened and participated. We taught about prayer and got to know the family, and then we gave Henry lesson one to study because he is extremely technically-minded. He believes in Christ, but not the saints like his mom (she is super catholic, which is normal here). So on Saturday, we returned and only he was there to teach. We discussed lesson one with him. I am starting to teach parts of the lessons and comment on things. While I was there, I know the Spirit was helping me because I remembered words I didn't even know I knew, like antepasados. Where did that come from? The spirit! We told him about the first vision and he said he felt something good and peaceful but he wasn't sure why. Woohoo! We told him about the Holy Ghost and how it was testifying to him. This feeling compelled him to want to know if the church is true, and he agreed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. He says if he feels it is true he will get baptized! Wow, it was a great lesson!
Omar, Hermana Agle, Hermana Munoz, friends and family

Our apartment is the only one in our mission that has more than one companionship in it, which has been really fun. The other hermanas in our apartment, Hermana Muñoz and Hermana Agle, had a baptism on Saturday that we attended. It was super cool because sometimes I go on splits with the other hermanas and I had the opportunity to help teach two of the lessons to Omar, who is the one who got baptized. Super exciting!

I spoke in church on Sunday. None of our investigators could come to church to hear me, but it wasn't for any lack of trying on our part! Ironically, I talked about the importance of Sacrament Meeting. It went fairly well, and lots of people came up to me afterward to tell me they liked it. Hopefully that means they understood it!

The view from our apartment

It is wintertime in Peru right now, and usually during the day, my coat is enough to keep me warm. At night, I wear a cardigan underneath the coat, along with my polka-dot scarf. With these things, I am warm. It's not that it's super cold, it's just the humidity that makes us want a coat. My bed is wonderfully warm, with the super thick peruvian blankets in addition to my big brown one, which is nice, but makes it kind of hard to get out of bed in the morning -- ha ha!

Hermana Juanita is getting fancy! I didn't love the taste,
but it sure looked pretty!

I am getting plenty to eat, and the food here is usually really good. I usually really like it, or I don't. Most the time it's freakin' delicious! The pastries here are going to make me so fat! You would think with all of the walking that we do that we would lose weight, but most of the sisters gain pounds because all we really eat are carbs. I haven't been able to exercise once because my companions don't like to, but I am hoping I can get permission to go running in the morning with Hermana Agle.

Hermana Brown and Hermana Solis reenacting our ride
in the taxi.

I finally received all of my stuff I was supposed to get from the mission office. When I got here, I don't know if it was confusion or what, but all I got was my debit card (which still has no money on it, but my money is on my companion's card for some reason). So now I have an extra set of sheets, a journal, my own desk, and information papers. Yay! Getting the desk to our apartment was quite interesting. We had to find a taxi that was bigger. Once we did, we put the seat down to fit the desk, and one of us sat in the front and me and another hermana sat in the back next to the desk on top of the seats. It was not super comfortable, but it worked. I didn't understand everything the driver said to us during our 20 minute drive, but I understood enough to know that he was the most racist person I have ever met in my life! He hated Americans a lot, and kept looking back at me with my blond curly hair and blue eyes. I wonder why he even picked us up? Anyway, it was interesting to say the least, and Hermana Solis, who is from Paraguay, changed the subject for the last 5 min to talk about his family, so we left the taxi with a little less tension than when we started. It was kind of funny in a way to meet someone who really didn't like Americans.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Crazy, Curly, Blonde Hair

15 July 2013

So I am currently serving in the the city of Olivar, which is basically a section of western Lima near the airport. I have been learning a lot here. While Olivar is generally more receptive than New York, my companions told me that the past 2 weeks have been crazy hard for some reason. We have been walking a lot door-to-door trying to find investigators to teach. I'm a little tired from the walking, but not too bad -- nothing that would tire me as much as a half marathon -- this is easy in comparison to that! We've been praying for help to find new investigators, and yesterday we could see the Lord answering our prayers. We found 3 new investigators all at once, talked to 4 or 5 potential new investigators, and received lots of referrals from the ward members while at church. According to my hermanas, this is more normal for Peru. Our schedules are filling up and things are starting to get better. We are also going to start teaching English lessons on Wednesdays and a lot of people are excited for that, so hopefully we can get the word out and lots of people will come.

Sanding the old paint off in the apartment

I had a really great experience last Tuesday. We split our area here in Olivar with two other hermanas, Muñoz and Agle, and they also share our apartment with us. Hermanas Muñoz and Agle have an investigator that was trying to paint her house. We all went over and started helping her sand the old paint off her walls and move furniture our of her house. It was kinda hard to move the furniture, but overall not too bad. She was so grateful for our help. She offered to pay us or feed us but we told her that this was a service and we wouldn't accept any money. She went and bought some Inca Kola for us (which I am starting to really like by the way), and we were able to finish. She was so touched that she began to cry and we all made sure to give her a hug before we left. From this experience, I learned that even though I can't speak Spanish very well, (she tried to talk to me a few times but I didn't really know what she was saying) I can give service to show my love for the people of Peru. Rather than just telling people we are repesentatives of Christ, we can show them by our actions who we are. A few of us went back on Saturday and helped her paint. It was super fun! Hermanas Muñoz and Agle say that they are going to baptize her for sure!
Helping to lend a hand with a little help from the cat.
The bishop has asked me to speak next Sunday, and I am super nervous! He wants me to talk about the importance of Sacrament Meeting. Hopeuflly I can speak well enough for them to understand. I want to start writing it today so that I can practice during the week with my pronounciation and stuff. Any prayers sent my way to help would be greatly appreciated.

I haven't had any fish yet, but our pensionista, Hermana Juanita, is the best freaking cook! She is actually going to try to make us lasagna tomorrow, so that will be fun! July 28th and 29th are the Independence Days for Peru, so maybe I will get to try some traditional foods during the celebration.

Last P-Day, we went and played soccer at a park. I didn't really want to play, so I took my sketchbook and was sketching. The school across the street got out and all the kids came over to see what we were doing. I'm the only one who has crazy, curly, blonde hair (thank you humidity!),  and all of the kids swarmed me. It was so funny! They touched my hair and asked me lots of questions. I told them I needed their help to learn Spanish, and they happily tried to help me understand. They were super sweet!

My companions gave me some really great advice to not be homesick here. They said to look at everyone like they are your family. We learn to love them more and can feel like we can get to know each other better. My companions have been great! They are incredibly funny! Well, loving it here in Peru and having lots of adventures! Les amo!!!!!
Returning to our apartment after we finished painting,
we were a mess.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bienvenido a Peru!

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Christ of the Pacific statue in Lima
Peru is pretty awesome, and I like it lots better than New York! There is more dirt here in Lima, but less garbage littering the streets. It doesn't smell as bad either, and the food is great so far. Sounds like you guys are having a hot summer back home in Utah, but I am nice and cool here in Peru where it is wintertime. While it isn't super cold, I am glad I brought my coat. The humidity is penetrating.

We arrived in Peru around 11:00 PM on Tuesday, July 2nd, so we didn't do much that first night but go to bed. The next morning, we got to eat breakfast at the mission home, and then our mission president, President Archibald, and his wife took us to see the giant 'Christ of the Pacific' statue that stands on a hill here in Lima. The statue itself is over 70 feet tall, but when you add in the pedestal, it is 120 feet tall and pretty amazing. There was also a great view of Lima from the site and we could see that the rich people are really rich and the poor people are really poor, and they live right next to each other without any division. It is crazy!

One of the wealthier areas in Lima with a golf course and tennis courts.

We went to the beach afterwards, and he told us about when Cortez brought his soldiers to South America and he burned their boats to show them that they had no option but to conquer the people. Even though they were vastly outnumbered, they conqered the native people. When Ammon went out among the Lamanites, he told them that he wanted to live with them perhaps for all of the rest of his days. In this same way, we need to be like we have no other way but to throw ourselves into the work and serve the people of Peru as if we will be here for all of our the rest of our days building the church and sharing the Gospel. Sister Archibald had made us each a paper boat and we burned them next to the sea. It was really fun! It was also a very spiritual experience that I will never forget.
Hermana Mangum, me, and Hermana Solis

Later in the afternoon, I met my new companions, Hermana Mangum from Sandy, Utah, and Hermana Solis from Paraguay. Yes, I have been put in a tripanionship again, so I guess I just need to learn from lots of people! My companions are also the first Sister Training Leaders here in Peru and this is their second transfer as STLs. Apparently, I am being trained by some of the best sisters in the mission according to President Archibald. So far, they really are great and we work super hard. Our apartment is actually really nice, and it even has a washing machine! My little sister would love it here because there are dogs EVERYWHERE! Big ones, small ones, fluffy ones, and scruffy ones -- ha ha!

Hermana Mangum with our plastic-covered hot dogs.
Happy 4th of July!
Hooray! I am finally starting to understand when people talk! Spanish is coming and my companions say I speak really well and that I will be able to speak lots soon.

Since they don't celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July here in Peru (hard to believe I know), me and my companions had our own little 4th of July celebration. Our pensionista cooked us french fries, salad, chicken, and soda. Later that night, we tried to make hot dogs, but it was kind of a disaster because they put a weird plastic covering on the wieners here and we forgot to take the covers off. Nevertheless, we had a great time!

Thank you to everyone for all the letters and packages, and sorry I don't have time to answer all of them individually. Hopefully next P-Day I will be able to share more about my area, my awesome companions, and the wonderful people of Peru.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hello and Goodbye NYC!

My time here in NYC started off crazy, but now I'm starting to get the hang of things a little better. However, my visa has arrived and now I'm off to Lima Peru! I am super excited!
I flew from SLC to Washington DC, and while in DC our flight was delayed for 2.5 hours because of a storm! We were eventually able to take off and arrive in NYC super late. On top of that, half of our group was missing at least one bag! Another sister and I were missing both of our bags! As if I wasn't already stressed out enough! Fortunately, I had headed the MTC packing list and had packed a few extra outfits and pjs in my carry on, so I was able to last a few days without all of my things.
We were picked up from the airport by our mission president and we went straight to his house because we didn't have time to do any of the other activities that were usually planned for new arrivals.
The next day, we went to our mission headquarters and met our new companions! My companion's names are Hermana Sanchez from New Jersey and Hermana Watts from California. This is Hermana Watt's 3rd transfer and she had been trained for her first two by Hermana Sanchez (who is on her 9th transfer), so they know each other really well. They had been serving in Dyker, and that's where I was assigned too. While we were at the church, everyone else recieved their bags, except for me...I was starting to get really worried!
My Hermanas were really nice and let me borrow some of their things and helped me feel super welcome into my new home. My luggage did finally come, and I got it back on Wed. night!
My first couple of days are kind of a blur, but overall I had the opportunity to attempt at talking in Spanish to some less active members and have some NYC experiences like riding the subway. NYC is definitely full of people, and it's a world different from Utah! There are lots of gross smells and trash, but on the other hand there are actually lots of nice people. You just have to get to know them, and they will welcome you.
On Fri, I had the opportunity to help teach an investigator. All I really did was bear my testimony of the Plan of Salvation, but I could feel the Spirit so strongly! It was a neat experience and I had words put into my mouth of what I should say, even though my Spanish is terrible. I know the Holy Ghost was bringing things to my rememberance.
Yesterday, I played the piano in sacrament meeting because no one here plays the piano or the organ. I would have played the organ if I had had more practice. I feel bad that I have to leave and they won't have anyone to play again. The Bishop also had me bear my testimony in front of the whole meeting. I was so nervous! But I think I said things ok, because everyone smiled at me afterwards...
Today, being P day, my district let me choose what activities to do because this is my first and only P day in NYC. We went on a ferry that goes in front of the Statue of Liberty, and it was super cool! Later we are going to go get some good NY pizza! Super excited!
Overall, I am so glad I was able to be here and meet new people and experience NYC. I am super excited for Peru, and maybe I will be able to bring something new there from what I have learned here.