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!