Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Service in Ensenada and Peruvian Carneval

This week was a little tough, but we're receiving more and more help from members now, so in the past 3 weeks, we have taught 24 new investigators! We are super excited, and now our goal is to help them progress.

Service project in Ensenada (North of Los Olivos, near the Comas District)
One of our new investigators that we are super excited to teach is Hermano F. He is a reference from Hermano Zacharias, the second counselor in the bishopric. Hermano F has had missionaries in his home in the past because his conyuge (partner) is a less-active member. He told us that he has read the Book of Mormon, is going to come to church every week, and wants to be baptized. His only problem is that he is fornicating, and he is trying to decide if he is going to separate from his conyuge or marry her (that is why he doesn't have a fecha bautismal (baptismal date)). He has come to church the past two Sundays and asks very thoughtful questions, and really wants to know the truth. We taught him the Restauracion with Hermano Zacharias, who has been a huge help. The lesson that we had was the most spiritual that I have had in all of my mission! He has a problem believing that there is a prophet in the world today, and has promised to pray to know is Joseph Smith is a prophet. We gained his confidence, and he asked us to visit his wife who is less active to see if we can reactivate her.

Isn't the view amazing? Some of our helpers during our service project.
Also this past week, we went to Ensenada to do a service. The Elders helped to remove part of the hill so that this awesome family can construct more of their house while the Sisters helped fold and iron laundry and cook. The family was super nice, and the Hermana is a returned missionary.

Our Carneval Misional at the church.
More of the Carneval Misional at the Church. Note the
large puddles of water!
We also had a Carneval, which in Peru is where people have a water fight. During the entire month of February, anyone is fair game, so watch out! We decided to do a Carneval Misional for our ward to help bring investigators and members to the chapel. We filled hundreds of water balloons and planned games like balloon volleyball. We had a pretty good turn out. My companion and Hermana Mirla, our pensionista, got me super soaked.

This was before I got super soaked at the Carneval.

Today we find out about transfers, but I'm not nervous because I am training Hermana Morales and it is very unlikely that I will be changed. We are super excited to work together and help reactivate and baptize lots of familes this next transfer.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy Teeth and Happy Feet

Music to our ears! Me, Sol, and Hermana Larsen having a little jam session.

So first off, Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! I actually completely forgot until my folks reminded me, because yeah, no Martin Luther King day here in Peru. Strangely, my Mom said that the dentist had scheduled me for an appointment today with my brothers and sister. I told her to tell him I'm sorry but I can't make it. My teeth are doing great by the way. No pain or cavities or anything! Just keep brushing... I have really great motivation to brush my teeth, because there are lots of people here who don't have any teeth, or their teeth are black and rotting. So ya, just keep brushing! Can I just say that I am super grateful for the braces and the dentist! Thank you!

So I finally got the rest of my Christmas packages from the Serpost! Woo woo! My new shoes fit great, and much less pain being a missionary now! As part of the packages, my folks sent me a few CDs that were a collection of podcasts and talks by Church leaders, such as Jeffrey R. Holland, John Bytheway, Elaine Dalton, etc. There were also a couple of funny clips, such as one where the Church leaders all talk about ways to eat a peanut butter cup. I had a pretty good laugh, but my companion, Hermana Morales didn't really get it. Then I realized that since she is from Mexico, whenever her family watches or listens to General Conference, they are always listening to a translator. She doesn't know what the voices of the prophets and apostles sound like! Kind of blows my mind. I never thought of that before. So, now I am teaching her who is who as far as how they sound.
Tastes like chicken, I think.... Hermana Larsen loves it.

Another thing I learned recently is that sometimes, it's necessary to take control of a situation, which is what I had to with our ward mission leader. We hadn't had correlation in about two months, and so I had to plan the meeting, call everyone, and get things going. Since then, he has gotten better and is more prepared. We are now getting more things done with the ward.

It is also hard when people ask you to do things at the last minute and you are already super busy. I get so stressed out! For me, the worst is when there's a baptism and 2 minutes before the program starts, you get asked to give a talk. Ugh! The mission leader in Laderas is the worst and always asks people to do stuff at the last minute because he doesn't plan ahead. On Friday, Laderas had a baptism, but the interview with the District Leader didn't pass, and no else could do the interview, so President Archibald came up to do it! When we arrived, we were so surprised that he was there. He stayed for the baptism. After the program started, the Ward Mission Leader got up and said that they would like to invite President Archibald to give a talk about Repentance! He hadn't said anything to him before! Well, President Archibald was gracious and gave a good talk. I don't know if I could have been so gracious! Our Mission President is such a great leader.

Me, Sol, and Hermana Morales smiling away our post-Christmas blues.
Helps when you finally get all your Christmas packages, too!
I was hoping to go to the temple here in Lima soon, but I found out I will have to wait. Apparently, we typically go as a whole mission only once per year (it is located in another mission, and there are like 250 missionaries, so it's not like we can just drop in). The last time our Mission went was in May last year, so I just missed it (I was in the Provo MTC at the time). I love the temple and know it is so important. I am trying to help some less active members and recent converts have the opportunity to go with the ward in February. Here in Peru, the temple is super duper small, and so each ward only has one opportunity per year to go as a ward. Otherwise, you have to schedule by yourself in advance and wait for hours and hope to get in. Makes me grateful to have so many temples available in Utah where you can basically walk in and participate in a session. It is amazing how much we take for granted sometimes.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Strawberry Ice Cream and New Families to Teach

Sol's parents, me, and Hermana Larsen

Sol, Me, and Hermana Larsen

Last night, we visited some less actives members for the first time that we found while we were contacting. The Dad made homemade strawberry ice cream and gave us some! I never thought I'd get that in Peru! It was so good!

I'm doing great this week. We are finding lots of people to teach. There's two new rules in the mission. The first is that every morning at 8 am we have to pray to find families. The second is that if we see a family in our path, we have to contact them no matter what. In the area where we are, there are tons of families! We have found so many to teach! This week, we have found lots of families, and yesterday we had our first opportunity to begin teaching some of them. Our first family is a family of 7, where 5 of them are old enough to be baptized. We had a noche de hogar to gain their confidence, and when we ended, the Dad actually asked us when we can come back and where and what time is our church! We are super excited to work with this family. During our contacting, we met a couple with their baby, and they are already members. They have lived in our ward for years, but only went to church once when they first moved in, so we don't have their records and had no idea that they even lived here. They gave pension for the missionaries for years before they moved in, and told us that they want to come back! We are super glad that we found them and that they can strengthen our ward. We are having lots of success in finding families, and we will never be short of contacts to go and visit. These new rules are inspired because we are having lots of work and meeting so many people to teach.
Sports night at the church.
The ward members say I'm good at volleyball, but it
might just be because I'm taller than everyone else.

Hermana Morales is doing great despite her grandmother's death. She has been so strong. Pres Archibald called her on Monday to talk to her and she has been working super hard. I have lots of respect for her. She doesn't seem sad anymore and we are getting better and better every week.
Hermana Morales and I having dinner with Sol and her family.
FYI, I still don't have my Christmas package even though the zone leaders have it, but I am bugging them to get my package because my feet hurt! So hopefully I will get the package this week.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Yellow Happy New Year and Perspective

The Muralla (Wall) de Chuquitanta and some ancient ruins outside of Lima
Last Monday, we went to see some ancient ruins. The lady who did the tour wasn't there, so we weren't allowed to go very close to it. However, it was surrounded by really tall hills, and so we decided to climb them. It was super hard, worse than hiking up to the 'Y' in Provo, but the view was even better. We could see a lot of our mission, the airport, the ocean, and everything. It was beautiful. It reminded me kind of like how we can only see a little part of our lives here on earth, what is surrounding us. But God can see everything, and can give us a new perspective of what our life can be. While down by the ruins, we could only see hills and dirt. But when we got to the top, we could see everything. I guess it all depends on your perspective.
Looking down on the ancient ruins

Looking out across Lima and the ocean
This week was difficult in that every day almost all of our citas fell through and no one was home. However, we prayed for the Spirit to guide us to where we should go and we did a lot of contacting. We are learning how to be more effective in helping people remember their citas and commitments, and we want them to recognize that when they say they'll do something, it's their word that they'll do it.

On Saturday, we had a really good study. We felt the Spirit very strongly and we left the apartment ready to share what we felt. That morning, we met with a less active sister who is very sick and has many challenges in her life and family. We could all feel the Spirit so strongly as we talked of faith and how God is aware of our trials. It was a very uplifting lesson, and yesterday the sacrament was brought to her house. She was grateful for the opportunity she had to renew her covenants.

For New Years Eve, everyone dresses in yellow, burns old
dolls, and they do lots of cool fireworks. Here they are
burning some dolls in the street below our apartment.
Later that day, we had a lesson with Rosa, whom we had been visiting for a while and who has had other missionaries in her home in the past. Our goal was to challenge her to commit to a baptismal date or else we would have to tell her that we could no longer visit her, so we were pretty nervous. We talked with her about obedience, and how God is just waiting to give us so many blessings if only we keep His commandments. We talked about her family and how she can be an example for her son. She accepted a fecha for the 25th, and we brought her with us to church yesterday! We are so excited for her and we know that making this first step to be baptized will give her and her son so many blessings. Now she could use some prayers to help her keep the commitment.

Celebrating New Years Eve dressed in our yellow
shirts and drinking yellow sodas.
Hermana Morales dressed for service.
For a service project this past week, we helped paint the
inside of a home.
Yesterday we had a cita with a niƱa named Natalie. She actally contacted us in the street one day while we were walking, saying that we had given her a pamplet to read about what happens after death but never came to visit her again. Well, last night we went to her house and the mother was sitting outside. She looked at us and told us right away that she was Catholic and didn't want to listen to anything we said, but we could talk to her daughter. We entered the house, and Natalie was so happy that we had come, even though it turns out we had not given her the original pamplet. Her older brother who is a marine was on the computer and barely even acknowledged our presence when we greeted him. Well, we sat down and began to converse with Natalie, and began to talk with her mother as well. We asked about her family, and she called for her husband to come in from the other room. He told us right away that he is Evangelico, and didn't want to change religions. Well, we talked about how our message won't take away from what he knows, it will only increase his faith. We then asked if they could all listen to our message, and the Lord softened all of their hearts so that they listened, even the brother on the computer came. We had the Holy Ghost with us to help us know how to teach this family, and they even said we could come back to teach more. It was a little miracle to me that the Lord is with us and helping to soften the hearts of those we come in contact with.

Standing on the Wall above the ruins.
Lastly, my new companion, Hermana Morales, could also use some love and prayers sent her way. She just found out that her grandmother passed away. She has been such a big boost of energy to my missionary spirit, and we have been doing so well. I hope she will be OK.