Monday, August 26, 2013

Blessings in Acobamba

First, a note of clarification about our lovely garage apartment. We do have a way to lock the door, and there's a smaller door set into the big garage door, and that is what we go in and out of. We are making it work and now it is starting to feel like home!

So, not a whole lot of excitement this week other than that I am starting to teach lessons again and we are getting to know our area slowly but surely. The members are awesome and are helping us immensly with our lessons, becuase without them we wouldn’t be able to explain the lessons very well or answer questions that our investigators have. In some ways it’s tough to be with a companion who isn’t a native Spanish speaker. Hermana Larsen and I love working with each other and are having a good time, but we both hope that next transfer we can each be put with a native Spanish speaker as our companions so that our Spanish can improve much faster.

I have a great story from last week that I didn’t have time to write, so I will tell you now. We went to talk to our neighbors one night, who are recent converts. We were talking with them when a friend of theirs came up and he had a violin case…well, I told him that I play the violin and he insisted that I play for him. We went inside and I played a little bit, and he started freaking out. I guess he makes the violins as a hobby. He’s a math teacher, and so he likes the mathematics involved in making a good violin. Anyway, he started freaking out and I had to remind him I can’t give hugs -- ha ha…he likes to see other people play and from watching them learn how to play himself. He teaches kids how to play his violins and makes as many as he can when he has time. He told me that I play beautifully and that I should stop my mission and go play my violin for people instead. After I explained to him that I’m not about to do that, he then tried to get me to buy one of his violins -- ha ha. Anyway, he gave me his card and wants me to but one of his violins when I get back to the states. We'll see. His violin was nice, but I love mine much more and it has a much better sound. Super funny experience, but I loved the chance to play a violin!

Part of the coastline in Lima near Callao.
We had a multi-mission conference on Saturday with the Lima North Mission. I got to see my other MTC companion, Hermana Jones! She finally arrived after waiting for her visa in Texas for a while. She is doing good in El Olivar and adjusting to the culture. It was super fun to see all the sisters. I even saw a couple of the sisters that are in Lima North mission that went with me to New York to wait for our visas together. They got here recently like Hermana Jones. Elder Callister of the Seventy came and gave a talk and it was so amazing. He talked about how we need to reactivate the less active members becuase it is through them that we will find lots of investigators. It is just as important to reactivate less active members as it is to baptize new converts. We have tons of less active members in our ward, so we will definitely have some work to do. I think my goal for this next week is to get someone to the chapel. This last week, no one we invited, either less active or investigator, came.

We also had a relief society activity Saturday where we learned how to make aflajores...super duper delicious! Well, I told them I loved to make cupcakes and they insist that I show them how to make some...the only problem is that I don't have any of my recipes! I think I want to try to make some churro cupcakes from scratch, and they requested a chocolate cupcake with something inside of it. I told them I would see what I could do.

This week, my companion and I had a terrific lesson with a family. Our first day in Acobamba, we were out contacting and talking to people on the street and getting to know our area. We saw a woman and her daughter walking and we decided to go talk with her. She accepted our invitation to listen to our message, and we set a date. Over the next week, our dates fell through and we had to call and reschedule mulitiple times. However, she always seemed willing and even excited to hear what we had to say. Finally, one night we called and she said her family would be home in 20 minutes and we could meet her outside near her house, which we hadn't been able to find. We decided to begin walking to where we thought her house was. After about 5 minutes, we heard her calling to us. We had just happened to be walking by her house at that moment and we had no idea. We went up to their room and saw there very humble circumstances. This little family, the parents and their daughter, had a special feeling about them. After we began teaching the lesson, we saw that they had been prepared by the Lord to hear our message. The father had excellent, inspired questions. All he wants is what is good for his daughter. The mother has been seeking for the truth for a long time, and is excited to hear our message. When we gave them the Book of Mormon, they were touched and told us they were grateful for the opportunity that they have to read it and find out for themselves. During the lesson, the Spirit was incredibly strong and I could feel the guidance I needed to be able to teach the lesson according to their needs. So far, this lesson was the best I've had during my mission. It is amazing to me how the Lord is able to work though us and put us in exactly the right place at exactly the right time so that we could meet this woman and teach her family.

Well, I am fairly warm now that it's starting to turn to Spring here in Peru, and definitely tired at the end of every day, but that's a good sign -- ha ha. I love reading everyone's letters! Thanks so much to everyone your prayers, letters, love, and support.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Surprise Transfer to a New Area

Boy, do I have lots to report this week...

So, I was told that I wasn't going to be changing areas. Well, I went to the cambios meeting and Hermana Agle really needed to use the bathroom after she found out who her new companion would be (Hermana Jones!!!). So, I went with her to the bathroom and when we came back, everyone was looking at me...turns out they had announced that I was going to Prolima with Hermana Larsen!

Before: A garage.
So, either they forgot to put my name on the list of people changing areas or Pres. Archibald had changed his mind between the email and the meeting. It was super crazy that day becuase I had to go quickly pack my stuff and then I went to my new area... Prolima in the Lima Region.

Hermana Larsen and I are openening up a new area for Hermanas! Prolima is a huge area that has been proselytized on and off the past few years with only Elders. Most recently, it has been part of Elder Johnson's area, but his area is so large that he didn't get to come up to our new area very often. Anyway, we are basically starting from scratch....

We got to our room the first night with our luggage and blow-up mattresses...and nothing else! All we had was a room (garage, actually. Our room is a garage!) with a tiny little bathroom. It was a tough night roughing it! The next day we got our beds and most of the stuff we needed. During this next week, we should get the rest of the things we need to make it a room good for missionaries. Today, we even got a thermal for our shower...yay no more icy showers!!!
Sleeping in the garage on an
inflatable mattress.

This week has been super tough because we are getting to know our area, which is definitely different from all the other areas for Hermanas. We are definitely in a poorer area of Lima now. Our house is in the safest part of Prolima, so we feel pretty safe there. We are just trying to figure our way around, learn where the safer areas are, and identify the unsafe areas so we can have members come with us to those places.

One challenge for this area is that there are hundreds of inactive members. Part of the reason is that the chapel is 15 minutes away by bus, 10 minutes for a taxi, and getting either to go up there is a challenge. The ward is really small, but if everyone came there wouldn't be enough room in the chapel. The members are really great, and they are super excited to have sister missionaries in the ward for the first time ever. I think they will be really great to work with.

My new companion: Hermana Larsen
preparing her inflatable mattress.
Hermana Larsen is really awesome. She is super chill and definitely has helped me get through this first week. She is from Ogden and has been out on her mission for 5 months (the same as Hermana Agle). The only challenge is that we both know only a little Spanish, so teaching is going to be very interesting for us.

Also, now I have a pensionista for all 3 meals. Her name is Hermana Maria. She used to work in the office for one of the missions a long time ago when she went on a couple's mission with her husband who has since passed away. She is really nice. Her food is good, but not as good as Hermana Juanita. At least now I will have 3 meals a day, everyday. It's definitely an adjustment to worry about eating dinner before 9 PM every night!

Slow transformation into a missionary apartment fit for a Hermana.

This week has been hard trying to adjust to the new area and find members. On Saturday, we were walking around Acobamba looking for members, talking to people, and knocking doors. We saw a group of children that were staring at us, so we decided to go say hi. They thought we were pretty awesome. I showed them pics of my family, which they thought was pretty cool. One of the girls even had the name Ashley just like my sister! Anyway, we gave them pamphlets to give to their families, found out when their parents are usually home, then we tried to leave. We started knocking on more doors, and the kids started to follow us around and talk to us some more. Then I had an inspired thought...I asked them if they knew anyone who was pregnant. They did, and took us over to near where they live. We contacted a young man who's girlfriend had recently become pregnant, and we met his mom and some more of his family. We are super excited to try to work with them, and hopefully they will accept our message! It was definitely meant to be that we had the opportunity to talk to those kids at that time!
Hermana Larsen and myself at cambios meeting.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Zone Blitz, an Open House, and the Inca Market

This week, no one has been sick, which has been much better. On Tuesday, we had our interviews with the Mission President, and it was rough for my companions. They hadn't been getting along, and that combined with being sick really made our numbers from last week about the worst numbers possibly for the whole mission, ever. For me, we talked about what I can help do to make our numbers better, and how I can help my companions work things out. He talked to me a lot about what will be happening in our mission over the next 6 months, and how he will needs lots of new sisters to be trainers. That's fine with me, I know I can train after a couple more transfers here. Hermana Jones is coming tomorrow! Super excited for that.

A couple of cuties bundled up for winter.
This week, I learned how to work hard. We had a blitz at the beginning of the week where all the missionaries in our zone came to our area and helped us look for referrals and contacts to give to us. We ended up with 26 new referrals! We have spent the rest of the week working hard to see the desires of their hearts in order to know if it is their time to hear the Gospel. It has been great to be so busy this week, especially after the poor week last week.

We have been starting to give the baptismal commitment to investigators during the first lesson now. So this past week, I gave the baptismal commitment in our first lesson with a 20-year-old named Cesia. I was super nervous! But I felt the Holy Ghost telling me what to say. She accepted to be baptized later this month! I am so happy that I was able to have the opportunity to extend the baptismal commitment to her. I feel like because things have been super crazy for me this transfer, I feel like I am behind in my training and don't know how to teach as well as I should. Hopefully, this next transfer I will catch up.

Hermana Mangum, me, and Hermana Solis. Hermana
Mangum is transferring next week.
We have transfers coming up this week, and today we found out Hermana Mangum is leaving, but Hermana Solis and I are staying. Hermana Muñoz extended her mission for another transfer, but she is also leaving. This means that Hermana Agle is getting a new companion now that her training is over. The Pres. also asked us to look for a new house so that my companionship can live in our area and be closer to the chapel. We found one that's perfect! It's brand new, super cheap, and really close to the chapel. So, we might be moving apartments in a couple of weeks. After working really hard this week, we are helping 4 investigators that have baptismal dates. Henry, Cesia, and two children whose mother is less active. I'm super excited I get to stay here and help them progress toward baptism!

Our Missionary's Room at the Open House
Something really funny happened this week with Henry. We had an appointment at his house at 8, and we were running kind of late, so we didn't get there until 8:20. We get there, and he had set up a little brunch-dinner thing for us with the table all laid out. I don't know if this counts as a date in some weird misionera way, but if it does then it's my first -- haha. It was super sweet. We didn't have time to teach him all our lesson we had planned, but we helped him reinforce his testimony in the Word of Wisdom (his Mom tried to serve us tea) and in how the gospel can bless families (he really wants to be married and have a family). It was a super great night.

Showing what we do at the Open House.
Also this past week, we had an awesome ward activity, kind of like a Missionary Open House, where lots of returned missionaries shared their experiences, and we had lots of young members there (and some investigators) that we could excite about missionary work. We set up a "Missionary's Room" where we brought a bunch of our stuff and set it up. It was super fun, and lots of people enjoyed seeing what our life looks like. There was supposed to be a baptism right after the activity for a young man named Kervin. However, the water in the font started draining for some reason, and the water for the church had already been shut off to the font for the night. They had to stop the activity in the middle, make everyone change really quickly, and have the baptism before the water was all gone. They barely had enough water in the font to baptize him, and he had to lay all the way down. Super crazy, right?

This past Sunday we had a member of the Quorum of the Seventy come to our Sacrament Meeting. Everyone in the ward was there, and it was super full for the first time that I've seen. They had flowers and treats and stuff and it was really put together well. I think the talk that he gave was really good, but it was all in Spanish, so I didn't quite understand everything he said. However, everyone seemed to enjoy it!

With my district at the base of another statue near the Christ of the Pacific statue
A cannon at Le Fortaleza del Real Felipe in Lima. Check out my new
Peruvian jacket and my new sporty red Peruvian pants.
Last P-Day was super fun. We got on a bus right after writing our emails and went to the Inca Market. I got some jackets to keep me warm, red peruvian pants, and a little llama named Alice. After that, we went to a touristy area by the beach and ate lunch. Then, we went to the Christ of the Pacific statue again, but instead we went to the hill next to it with different statues...not sure why. Then, we got a flat tire and had to fix it. Then, we went to a castle but it had already closed for the day. Instead, we walked along the path by the beach and enjoyed the view. After that we headed back, and just in time too because the bus got a flat tire as soon as we arrived -- haha.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

An Earthquake, Bubbles, and Sickness

5 August 2013

So my parents asked me to talk first a little bit about our Preparation Day activities. On our P-Day, sometimes we go shopping for food. If we get the chance, we like to go to Tottus, the only real grocery store in Peru. I still haven't had the opportunity to go, but from what I've heard it's like Walmart. The only bad thing is that it's kind of far away from where we live. When we do buy food, it's usually from a little tienda (shop) or market because they are everywhere. There are 3 little tiendas (shops) within a couple of blocks from our house, as well as a botica (drugstore). At the markets we will buy fruit or veggies. Sometimes, Hermana Juanita will give us a bag of fruit. Sometimes on P-days, we will get our money from her that she would have spent on our meal for that day and use it to buy food from a restaurant. We have gone to the airport a couple of times to eat and send letters because it's super close to our apartment. At the airport, we can eat McDonalds, Papa Johns, Dunkin' Donuts and lots of other fast foods. In Peru, there are actually lots of fast food restaurants like Papa Johns, Burger King, McDonalds, etc. It's interesting to me.

On P-Day, we also do our laundry. In my apartment, we have a washing machine, so we wash our own clothes and hang them up to dry. In other areas, usually they have a member that does their laundry. In one area, they just got a person that has a dryer, which is crazy for out here. So how you do your laundry just depends on which area you are in.
We are allowed to listen to church music, so I listen pretty much every day. We can't have earbuds or headphones, so I hook my old iPod to some speakers, which are sweet. As far as playing the piano, I have some sheet music from home that is awesome, but there aren't very many pianos here. In my ward, we only have one piano, and it's electric and located in the chapel. In one of the other meetinghouses that I've been in, they had a real piano in their chapel and I totally sat down to play. I have only had the opportunity to play the piano a couple of times since I got here, which sucks. Today is our P-Day outside of our mission, so I'm going to buy an instrument of some sort to play on so I can express myself musically, because I'm dying! Super excited to see what I can find!

So there was an earthquake here a couple of weeks ago, but at the time, me and my companions were doing an exchange in another area (because they are Sister Training Leaders and they go out and train the other sisters in the mission twice per week), and we were sitting outside near a bunch of construction. We felt something like a little rumble for about two seconds, but we just thought it was the construction. Sister Agle was still back in our area and she said all the buildings were swaying, but we didn't have any swaying where we were at.

This week, I didn't eat anything super weird or super yummy, except Hermana Juanita's really good soup. Here, they often serve soup before a meal, and the soup is always really great. Yesterday, she made a chicken and rice dish. The chicken was kind of gross, but the rice was super-duper yummy, like Cafe Rio-delicious.

The worst part about this past week was that me and my companions have all been super sick. Last Monday, I started to get a sore throat and it quickly developed into the worst cold that I've had in years. However, rather than rest, I decided to try and work through it because I didn't want to make my companions stay in with me and miss our citas (appointments). Therefore, Tuesday and Wednesday sucked!! On Thursday, I got out of bed, told them I really needed to sleep, and then I spent most of the day inside. Blah! I still have the cold, but I'm starting to get better now. On the other hand, Hermana Agle ate something bad or had a bug that made her throw up for two or three days. On Saturday night, I threw up too... so that was fun. Yesterday, I went to church and that was all I could do. Now, Hermana Mangum and Hermana Agle have got my cold, and yesterday afternoon, Hermana Solis threw up too. On the bright side, we are all feeling pretty good today, and hopefully it stays that way!

Bubbles from the Powerpuff Girls
This week, we had a noche de talentos (talent night), and our zone was in charge of everything. We had one skit planned and practiced along with a song. Every companionship had to have 2 things prepared, and no one else had even practiced anything. Therefore, the night came and we started an hour late and it was crazy. Our skit was about Death trying to take a kid, but he called on a bunch of his super heroes to save him. There was Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Harry Potter, and lots of others. I was Bubbles from the Powerpuff Girls. All of the heroes come to save the kid, but they run away when Death confronts them. In the end, the missionaries come and save the day. When the missionaries appear, Death runs away because they are representatives of Jesus Christ and He overcame death. That was the highlight of the show. I took some pics, but I forgot to put my memory card in before and so I can't get them off my camera to send you. Sorry!

On Saturday, we did a service project and spent 6 hours painting a school. It lasted too long because pretty much only the missionaries showed up to do it. It was fun, just super cold! 

So yeah, this week was really interesting and out of the normal. Hopefully next week will be better, especially since our Mission President set a goal for all companionships to have 3 baptisms this month... I don't know how we're going to do it, but with faith, we'll see what happens.