Monday, January 28, 2013
I´ll start with what happened on monday.
We went to Victor and María's house and i was super nervous, expecting an explosion and basically the worst. But when we got there Victor was smiling... and i was thinking hmm, it feels different here. María was there too, and offered us a drink and cookies they bought in a little pueblo called Jesus like a half hour from here.. So i was confused that they had gone somewhere together because they weren't even talking or looking at each other in the morning. Victor told us he had something to tell us. They took seriously all the things we told them in the morning. One thing we told them was to take some time just the two of them and talk about the things they needed to change. They did it! They took a little trip the two of them to Jesus and on the way Victor felt like someone opened up his chest and blew air on it, something he had never felt before (i love when people don't realize the holy ghost is talking to them, but recognize it´s a good feeling and follow it.) He felt like he needed to tell María he just wanted to start over again and forget everything that had happened in the past, and she said yes! They were still pretty tense, but the situation was definitely better. We talked a lot, watched the church movie called together forever (the first two segments are basically exactly their lives) and it all really hit home. The spirit was so strong, and they told us that they want to be baptized together this week! So, in one day they went from being on the point of separation to planning to being baptized together. All i could do after teaching them was thank Heavenly Father for being a part of that amazing change. The changes they are making in their lives are truly miracles, and i get to see first hand how the gospel blesses families. That's what i gave my farewell talk about, but now i feel so much stronger and have so much more experience in how it changes people's lives drastically. Their relationship is still hanging by threads, but i'm confident that once they get baptized this thursday things will get better. I love them, they're probably the most special family i've met here in the mission.
Cajamarca is the center for all of Perú in carnavales, aka giant water fights all day every day and a lot of drunk people. The rule is that girls can only get boys wet and visa versa, so that's kind of nice.. girls don't throw water balloons as well. You would think they would respect missionaries, but no.. I've been pretty good about dodging their attempts to soak me, but once a little girl snuck up behind me and poured a 3 liter bottle of water on me. I tried to defend myself but i had my planner in my hand and couldn't stop her. Another time we walked by some little girls with water guns that looked harmless, but when we had passed by them they shot me. But i haven't gotten too wet. Some girls poured a bucket on my companion's head, it was funny. I decided not to participate (even missionaries water balloon people here! it's nuts) for the first three weeks, i thought it was too barbaric, but then the family of our pensionista always goes up on their roof after lunch and dominates people every day, and bit by bit they got me to participate. I've only hit a few people with water balloons. :)
I feel the end coming.. Last night one of the missionaries in our zone said that the vultures are already flying around me.. haha. But i'm still working 100 percent and loving every minute. I honestly love and feel so happy when i'm teaching. Knocking doors and stuff is a chore, but i enjoy it in a way.. But when we can teach and have an investigator who's seriously interested, i'm in heaven. :)
I love you family, i´ll see you soon!
Monday, January 21, 2013
Thanks Lindsey and Kristen for writing me!!! I'm so pumped that Lindsey is coming to my homecoming! :)
This week... wow. I don't even know what to say. First of all, i officially complete my two year mission this week. Everyone in my zone is asking me to leave them clothes, ties, my football, etc. I have to leave a lot behind, so it'll be easy to be loving to them :) But no, i don't feel trunky. I honestly could go another year in the mission.. but it's time to get back to real life.
First of all, the Ascate family got baptized!! It was my most stressful baptismal service yet. We didn't get the baptismal clothes worked out very well, and we were running around last minute, because we were doing a service project in an inactive man's farm all morning and got back like an hour before the baptism.. Then when Sonia, the mom, was getting baptized, she got super nervous and wouldn't get into the water.. ten minutes later when we coaxed her in, she had to be baptized five times to finally be submerged. After the third time she said no, that's it, I'm done. and got out of the font and was standing there crying, but our pensionista, hna Corina, who's a champ, calmed her down and got her to go back into the water and it finally worked. Their 8 year old son Baruc was being super irreverent and yelling and trying to swim in the water the whole time.. but oh well, it's over now and they all got baptized and confirmed!
But the real story of the week is the Tello Ortega family, aka Victor and María. They have serious marriage problems, but we were working through things and from what we could see they have progressed a TON. In the morning Victor called us and told us he needed to talk to us urgent, so during our P-day activity in the church they both came and while the zone had a water balloon fight outside i had the roughest hour and a half conversation ever. Last night they had a big fight over a miscommunication about folding clothes (it was the breaking point for them both) and Victor decided he needs to move out and move to Trujillo- like 6 hours away. They are both devastated, and so sad for what is happening to their kids when they see them fight all the time. So, victor wants to leave the situation and just be alone for a long time. We tried to talk to them, but they both have so much bottled up anger toward each other. I don't have much experience as a marriage counselor, but we gave them lots of advice, and we're going to talk to them tonight. I feel sick. I know the Lord had them find us specifically because He knew this was exactly when they need the Gospel, and i am hoping and praying (please pray for them too) that we can get to their hearts tonight and save their marriage. It's so tragic. I love them so much, and just want the best for them!
Crazy news, because of the surge of missionaries, the missions had to change the transfer schedule, so all the missionaries in my group who haven't gone home yet, are going home one week earlier, aka the 12th. But, because of my special situation with my parents coming to pick me up, i'm going to stick around another week. I'm going to seriously be the last man standing. But i feel like there's so much for me to do here! I love it.
I know the gospel is true and designed to bless us, and especially our family. I have learned so many lessons in the mission that i hope to apply to myself and the Tello Ortega family about how to forgive, communicate, and express the positive things we see in others. I know if we truly live the gospel in our lives we will be blessed.
I love you!
here's the picture of the baptism! The bishop baptized them.
if i look like a tomato, it's because i got super sunburned in the service on the farm in the morning!
Monday, January 14, 2013
I laughed out loud like three times in dad's letter to me. I love you dad :)
I can't believe how cold it is in Provo, but i feel like I'm getting a little preview. Right now I've had to blow on my hands a few times because they´re so cold! I mean, I'm in short sleeves, but it's still cold for Peruvian standards. Today we went to a crazy cool zoo in the mountains and it hailed! And i actually saw a wild herd of Llamas by the side of the road on the way there, there were at least 200 of them! I was so excited! Cajamarca is what i always hoped Perú would be like. Not that Chiclayo isn't the best, it´s just different.
The amazing experiences continue. My testimony is being strengthened in so many ways recently. After a few rough weeks it's easy to start to wonder if God really is preparing people for us, or if we're worthy to listen to the spirit and find them. Yesterday we had another of those experiences. We were walking to an appointment with a guy we had contacted Saturday night, and a car pulls up beside us. The man asked us if we had some kind of authority or power to pray for sick people, because his little daughter who was there in his wife´s arms, is really sick. I was caught off guard, but finally we said yes, and he said well, get in the car and we'll go to my house. We hopped in, and talking in the car we realized they're amazing people and that their daughter has a very rare hereditary disease that completely wipes out a protein needed in nerve conduction. So, their little 3 year old daughter can hear and understand everything, but can't move her body at all. She's been like that for a year. And the doctors say there's no cure and that she has a few months more to live. Obviously, they're so devastated and desperate for any help and wondering if God really exists. We took advantage and shared some of the Gospel with them and talked about the authority we have to give blessings and where it comes from. They were very interested, and we ended by giving their daughter a blessing of health. I hope and have faith that she can improve. But they don't live in our area, so we'll have to pass their info to the zone leaders, it's in their area. They were so grateful and such good people, and they just happened to be right where they could find us... God knows us so well, and really makes miracles happen when we're trying our hardest and focusing on the work. I love it! And I'm realizing bit by bit why i had to extend my mission. Certain things that are happening right now, people that the Lord is preparing, i feel so grateful. I honestly can't ever pay Him back for these experiences.
We are going to baptize a family of 3 this week. Genaro is the dad, Sonia is the mom, and Baruc is their 8 year old son. They were evangelical, but feel something different and special in the Church. They've gone to church a bunch of times, but this week we could finally teach them and resolve some doubts they had and they accepted to be baptized the 19th!
I'm so happy, having such a great time, and wishing the days wouldn't go by so fast. I love being a missionary!
I love you family, thanks for your support and prayers!
Monday, January 7, 2013
This week was nuts. We had worked like nobody's business, and had no success for two weeks in a row, and honestly, i was wondering what i was doing wrong. Then, this last monday, things just changed.. Everything started with Cresencio. He's a champion, and we ended up finding his granddaughter who's 16 and also randomly wants to be baptized.. But we were super excited about them and just loving life, working, and having fun. We are looking for new investigators using the ward directory, too, and visiting inactive members. It's working, and we found a 24 year old guy named Raul, who's also so ready for the Gospel. His only problem is that he works as a security guard and every other sunday he can't go to church. So this next Sunday he should be able to go and we'll see how his progress goes. Anyway, everything was going well until friday... fateful friday... when we went out and it was raining like pretty much every day.. but a few days before elder Giraldo had left our umbrella in a member's house. We were walking to an appointment and he said oh, can we go get the umbrella? normally i get super in the zone and would have said no, we can get it after the appointment, but for some reason i said yes really quick before thinking and we went to pick up the umbrella. When we were walking back a guy parked in a parking lot by a condo complex starts honking and flashing his lights at us.. Then he comes and talks to us and says his parents are members in Lima, and he saw us, and because of recent problems, felt like he needs our help. He invited us to go talk to him later that day, and we did.
I don't want to give too many details, because i need a story or two to tell when i get home, but he and his wife are the most amazingly prepared gift from heaven i've ever recieved as a missionary. We've taught them twice, they went to church with their two little kids and old dad, and after church on sunday they invited us to lunch with them. We taught/talked to them for a solid 2 hours after and while eating, and it was just so natural and fantastic. Victor, the man who found us, expressed us all his doubts, fears, etc, and we helped him understand the gospel. He and his wife invited themselves to be baptized and set their own date!! It has been such a special experience for me in only two visits with them! We have all teared up, and sometimes i can't say anything but wow. I love them, and am so grateful that our Heavenly Father let me have this oportunity. So, anyway, friday night after our first lesson with this dream family, we leave their house basically skipping because we're so happy, and go to our appointment with cresencio and his granddaughter. The first thing he tells us is that he's opening up a new institute (he owns like 5) in a village like 3 hours away and he's going to be there for a MONTH :( It brought me back down to earth, but i know he'll get baptized soon. But things are still going great.
After forgetting the keys to the room i made elder Giraldo in charge of the keys and yesterday he forgot them at night.. I didn't want to risk my life again dangling from the third floor, and he didn't either, so we had to get creative. The keys were on his desk and a window was open but had gates around it so only an arm could fit through.. So i took one of the laundry drying lines from our roof and tied my shoe to it to try to somehow grapple the table and drag it to myself and grab the keys... I ended up breaking a light bulb and knocking the phone off its hook, but no keys.. I was inventing other things with a broom, etc, when the owner of our house finally got there at like 11 at night and gave us the keys. haha it was great.
Anyway, today i officially start my last transfer. i'm not trunky but definitely am thinking more about home.. It's going to be so weird being home. I feel way more natural here. Oh, speaking of home.. One of my good friends here in the mission just got back from the mission (lives in lima) and is dating a sister missionary from the mission too.. haha he sent a picture of them hugging. ick. But i'm happy for them because they were both amazing missionaries.
Well, i think that's about it!
Love you guys!
Here's our district today at a convent- it looks small in this courtyard, but i'll send a picture of how huge it really is.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Wow, it's so nuts to be back in the real missionary world! And now i only have an hour to email, so my letters are going to be shorter, because i need to send pics, too! Here it goes:
My new area, here in Cajamarca, is huge. Our ward is really rich (compared to others) and for the first two weeks, we couldn't find any of our investigators because they're all travelling.. And one of the best investigator families we have just went on a trip for a month :( But oh well, we've found some awesome new investigators. One, in particular, is such a blessing! Here's the story:
We were doing divisions, i had been in the area for like a week, and still didn't know my way around too well. We were looking for some less active members with the directory and were lost. We asked a guy in the street if he could help us, and he ended up inviting us into his house to teach him. He has all the desires in the world to repent, change his life (he's had lots of family problems in the past) and join the church!!! You don't find that kind of person by chance. I know the Lord put him in our path that day and that he is so prepared for the gospel right now!!! His name is Cresencio Torres. Champion of champions. We also have a few other families. One that works in a bakery and another that makes suits. It's really hard to get them in a calm hour when we can teach them.
I love being in the real missionary world again, working all day knocking doors, and walking a ton and just being completely in my area. The office was great, and i learned SO much, but nothing is like the experiences you have every day working in the field. Another blessing is not being any kind of leader. It's been like a year and a half since i didn't have a responsibility.
We skyped from a member lady's office. Christmas we had p-day, because everyone's drunk, today too, sorry for not telling you i wasn't going to write yesterday. But we just hung out with the district and visited members. Today we went to a waterfall that's like an hour away from here, and it was super fun! The town is basically dead,nobody is in the streets because they're all drunk and sleeping in their houses! Great way to jump into the new year! This morning we were walking to our pension and a super drunk guy was stumbling down the middle of a kind of busy road! After a minute of watching him almost die like six times, we decided to help him off the road. He told us he wanted to die, and i said no, you don't want to die, you're just drunk! He looked at me really seriously and said i'm not drunk, i'm fine. Then a few minutes later, in spite of our attempts to help him, he wandered back onto the road into oncoming traffic... great guy. I hope he made it home okay.
This week for a day i went to another area called baños del inca on exchanges, i worked in a farm in the morning and found out i can relate pretty well with cows- they didn't let the other missionaries get too close, but they loved me. While i was petting one another one came up to me so i would pet it too.
It has been raining all week- i love it so much! Almost two years without rain, i was super ready for a change. The food here is different too. The bread is more rustic and so good, and the cheese is to die for. I'm thinking of buying a lot here in the mountains and coming back to retire :)
Ooh, another great story. So, when i got here to the area our room was way too small and moldy, but we moved downstairs to the second floor to a much better room. One day i forgot the keys to the second floor room, and we were locked out. The owner of the house wasn't there, and the people who live below us wouldn't let us try to climb up in the elevator shaft type thing, so elder Giraldo dangled me down to the second floor from the third floor and i got into an open window. It was so scary! I was imagining newspaper headlines of a dead gringo... But it turned out ok, i only scratched my hand, and i learned my lesson and don't forget the keys anymore.
I gave a talk in church on sunday too! I'm busy, happy, and super excited to work as hard and as best as i can my last two months! I love you!
on the stairs to santa apolonia- classic peruvian mountain man and woman in the foreground
Me and elder Andersen, one of my zone leaders, being funny at Yacanora!
having fun in the guard posts in santa apolonia
here's my lunch today.... yummy.