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.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Sure Testimony, Exercise, and Obedience

This week, we finally have a promising investigator that has come to church and has a fecha! Our progressing investigator is Martin. He has been coming to church for a year and a half to help his daughter, Edith (who is the wife of one of the counselors in the stake presidency), with her kids. He has had lots of different missionaries come to his house in the past, but he has never been baptized. We had our second lesson with him last night, and we prayed that the spirit would guide the lesson. He really opened up to us, and we found out that even though he has been to church and had had lots of missionaries visit him, he really didn't know the answers to some of the basic questions in lesson 1 and that he really didn't understand the lessons. He told us that he wanted to be baptized! He wants to go through all the lessons again and be really sure, and we can only meet with him once a week because of his work, so his fecha is Oct 26. We're going to see if we can have him feel ready before then, but for now that is the date he accepted.

This week, I also learned the importance of making sure your investigators have a testimony of the gospel and even a basic understanding of the gospel. We taught a less active this week that is attending a Jehovah's Witness church. We asked her if she had a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and from that we found out that she didn't really know what the book was, or who Joseph Smith really was. She told us she had been baptized because she really liked the Elders that came and visited her, and that after they left she decided to go to another church. It was such a sad experience, and it was an experience for me that I know that we need to really make sure our investigators have the right motives for being baptized.
Preparing the completos.

The pictures are all from an activity that our zone had, eating completos, which is pretty much a beefed up hot dog thing that they eat in Chile. It was pretty yummy. Also, this is the conference we had with President Archibald after the zone completed it's monthly goal for baptisms.

Completos waiting to be assembled.
We started running in the mornings for exercise now...I have been super nervous to go running ever since I got here because there are literally dogs everywhere...there is not a single street corner that doesn't have at least 3 wild dogs roaming around. I've seen people get chased, nearly bit, and I have been barked at several times just for minding my own business and walking by. I am terrified of these dogs! But anyway, Hermana Larsen convinced me to go to the park one morning and just walk around. We got out to the park, and I didn't see any dogs really near by, and I have really missed running, so I was like, 'You want to run?' So, ya. Now we try to go running in the park for our exercise in the mornings! I am so glad to get back to running! Such a stress relief!

Some of the Elders in our Zone enjoying the
Anyway, last Thursday we had a mission conference with Elder Ucede of the Seventy. It was really good, and we learned lots of things we can improve on. We were told that we really needed to be exactly obedient and follow step for step, word for word, what is in Preach My Gospel. So to be more obedient, that is one of the reasons we started to exercise in the mornings (thus the running). We also learned that it is really important for everyone in the mission to know two languages. He really got after everyone who didn't want to learn English while they're serving. I really hope I can have a latina companion while I am here and that I can help her learn some English!

Well, we find out today if we get transfered tomorrow or not. So far, our zone leaders haven't told us anything. I really hope I can stay here with Hermana Larsen because we feel like we are finally starting to get our area up and going. We have also been looking for apartments, but everything we found was too expensive and big. We'll have to keep looking, but for now we're staying in our garage.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Peruvian Conference, a Non-Member Missionary, and My Latino Heritage?

This week, we have been working hard to schedule lots of lessons, especially with less-active church members. Sadly, we didn't have any of our investigators come to church yesterday, but we had lots of less active members. We set ourselves a new record to beat! As we teach the less-active members, we are hoping to get more references all around.

Our supply of cookies. Essential comfort food
for every missionary after a hard day of work. 
What do you call it when a whole country has a conference? I'm not sure, but yesterday, instead of our regular church meetings, we had a special conference that included all the stakes of Peru. Two of the Twelve Apostles, Elder David Bednar and Elder Richard G. Scott, gave talks, as well as the second counselor of the General Relief Society Presidency. The coolest part was that all the speakers gave their talks in Spanish except for Elder Bednar. I had no idea that Elder Scott could speak Spanish! It was a really, really good conference and now I am super pumped up to have General Conference next month!

My awesome parents sent me some cupcake recipes, but I haven't gotten the chance to try them  yet! I really want to try them out, but we're kind of limited since we live in a garage and don't actually have a kitchen to speak of. Plus, the Relief Society already has activities for the next couple of weeks, so it probably will be another two or three weeks until I can cook with them. We also have an investigator who's daughters are members and she wants us to come up to her house a week from Sunday and help her make a cake! Ironically, the rumor going around the mission is that President Archibald wants all missionaries to have, at the most, only lunch prepared by a pensionista. If that is the case, we will have to move out of our garage. It would be nice to have a kitchen to cook in, but I really don't want to move again because the garage is finally starting to feel like home...well, we'll see how it goes.

Last night we had a good experience with an investigator. We haven't been able to meet with her for the past 3 weeks because something always comes up. However, we ran into her on the street, and she started telling us how she's been talking about the Book of Mormon with her family and inviting them to learn more! Wow! She's already a great missionary, and she's not even a member yet! She asked for another Book of Mormon because she gave the two she had to her family members to read. She's going to write up all of the references and introduce us to her family in the next week. Super excited!

Sounds like it has been super hot back home in Utah! They say here in Peru that this last winter was one of the coldest they've ever had here in Lima. Anyway, it's finally starting to warm up! Maybe now that the sun is out I'll start to get a tan! So I really like to show the picture of our family right before they dropped me off at the MTC last May. I've had people ask me more than once if my dad is latino -- ha ha! He is super tan in the picture and so people think that he is part latino! Here is the link to the Family Picture at MTC (look at the last picture), so see what you think. Super funny! It would be super cool if I had it in my genes for my skin to go that tan!

Me and Hermana Solis
Hermana Solis was with me for one day this week for a work visit! She came to my area and I had to be in charge of everything that day. I was so nervous! It went fine, and I realized how nice it is to have a spanish speaking companion. She was able to answer lots of the investigator's questions that I couldn't understand or answer very well. Anyway, it was fun to get to see her and talk to her. Back in her area of El Olivar (the same area I was in before I was transferred), she's teaching the parents of one of the families that we found, one of our contacts has been baptized and is super active, and one of our old investigators is preparing for baptism! It's cool to see how things have gone since I've left.

Even though we currently don't have any progressing investigators in our area, I have faith that the Lord will help us to find those people who are ready for the gospel, and that we will be able to help people come unto Christ. We have investigators that if they are married and baptized, they can eventually be sealed in the temple and have a family for eternity! I want to be able to help a family find this happiness and have these blessings, and I know that Lord wants it for them too. We just need to have faith that the Lord will help them make changes in their life and that we will be blessed to know how to help them.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Obra Misional, Pizza, and Dead Dog

Well, this was a really tough week. Every day, either all or almost all of our appointments fell through. We were unable to meet with nearly every one of our investigators and we only found a few new people to teach. Super frustrating! We even ran into a bunch of Jehovah's Witnesses this week, and they always like to throw scriptures at us (figuratively, not literally) and tell us we're wrong, so that was exciting. On the bright side, we are teaching piano lessons once a week and English classes twice a week. We are getting a pretty good turn out. They announced the times in Sacrament Meeting this week and lots of people said they want to come!

Hermana Larsen and I had to give the talks in Sacrament Meeting this week about the obra misional (missionary work). It actually wasn't too hard and I wasn't really nervous this time. The talks went well and I think they could understand at least part of what I said, so it was a success! 

Me, Super Awesome Sharon, and Hermana Larson
The members are great and really want to help us. Even though we don't have any progressing investigators, we had lots of less actives attend sacrament meeting this week! At least some of our hard work is paying off. We have one member named Sharon, who is a young adult in our ward and really wants to serve a mission. She is 18 right now, so she can leave next year. However, she is super awesome and comes with us at least three days each week. She will be a great missionary.

Last month, our zone met our baptismal goal, and we were one of the only zones in the mission to do that. So, President and Sister Archibald came to our zone meeting last Wednesday and spoke and then bought us pizza afterwards. It was pretty cool!

My sister loves dogs, so she would love Lima because there are a lot of dogs. Anyway, there's a dog in our area that we see laying in the middle of the road all the time. We don't know why he lies in the middle of the road, and we're super surprised that he's still alive. Anyway, he is our new amigo and we call him Dead Dog because sometimes he looks like he's dead in the middle of the road, but he's really not -- ha ha.

Other than that, nothing really new this week. Starting to warm up here, so hopefully the jacket weather is almost over! I heard about the flooding back home, which is crazy. It never rains here in Lima, it only ever mists! (I've almost forgot what rain feels/looks like.) As it gets warmer, there are more days with sunshine and the skies are becoming less gray, so maybe I can take some pretty pictures soon!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Climbing the Stairs at Colegio las Animas

Hermana Gladys and me
 Not a lot of exciting news this week. We are still working hard to find inactive members and investigators to teach. Luckily we have a lot of help from the members here. Here are two of the hermanas in our ward who have helped us a ton. They are super awesome! They go out on a lot of visits with us, help us with our Spanish, and help us with addresses and such.

Hermana Marilou and Hermana Larsen

We also explored part of our area this week that is called Colegio las Animas, Independencia, Puente Piedra, but we just call it Las Animas. It is built entirely on a hill and the houses are super close together. There is this crazy staircase that beats the ones at BYU! Also a super steep hill that we go up to visit Hermana Marilou.
See me at the top of the steep stairs?

The view at the top of the stars in Las Animas
Me, Hermana Larsen, and our pensionista, Hermana Maria

The Relief Society hermanas want me to teach them how to make cupcakes. I asked my parents to send me my recipes. We can get pretty much the same ingredients here as we have in the US, you just have to look for them and sometimes pay a little more. However, everything here is in grams and milliliters and such, so it could be interesting to try to convert the recipes. We'll see how they turn out.

I was super surprised after writing my emails last Monday when the Zone Leaders came and handed me four letters! I was so incredibly happy and surprised! Thanks so much! I loved reading them all! Well, unfortunately I am about out of time this week. I will try to write more next week, and hopefully I'll have some great news to tell you.