Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 7 -- Cusco and Sicuani

Wow what a week here in Peru! As you guys know I am no longer in Lima and finally in Cusco. So exciting to actually be in the mission and doing missionary things.

Well, I flew from Lima last Tuesday to Cusco and met my mission president and his wife. They are so nice and I just think they are amazing. We were able to take a tour of Cusco and see a bunch of landmarks, which the city is just breathtaking. Mountains on all sides and it is just so pretty! We got to go up to the top of the city by the Cristo Blanco statue and you can see all the city from there!

After we stayed the night in a hotel and waited for the next day, when we found out our companions or trainers and the area we will be serving in for the first 3 months. I was assigned with Elder Martinez, my daddy in the mission. He is from Guatemala and he is just so funny. I know that I will learn a lot from him! He speaks decent english but we are trying to talk only in Spanish.

Our area is in the Sicuani stake and my ward is Vallecito 2. The area is surrounded by mountains, not huge but they are so beautiful. Sicuani is about 2 hours south of Cusco, and it is a town that is full of agriculture and humble people. All the houses here are so different, it is actually quite humbling. They all are made either out of brick for the nicer ones and then most are made from dirt bricks. Most don't have roofs, but the people are all so generous and nice.

Another weird thing that is most people don't have cars and the mode of transportation is walking or these mototaxis. They are basically little motorcycles with a seat in the back. Kinda scary but they are so fun to ride in. So I have walked a lot lately and the houses of the investigators are pretty far sometimes.

Also many people here only speak Quechua here and sometimes it is hard to speak bc we don't learn it. But I have picked up some words here and there, but the language is quite weird.

Our house that we live in is in a members house and we have our own rooms. We live with 2 other elders too that are in our ward. We have a penchinista, or a person who cooks our meals and does that stuff for us. She is so awesome! We call her mamai, which is Quechuan. She is pretty short too and she cooks us the best food!

So far I have tried a few local items. I have tried chichamurrada, or a drink that is made from purple corn and it is actually quite good! The other weird thing that I have tried is chuno or papas negras, which is basically a rotten black potato that is squished by foot and is put in soup sometimes. I thought it was all right for some reason, but my companion hates it. I am so excited to try cuy, or guinea pig, because our mamai has a bunch of cuy that we will get to eat every once in a while.

Life here is pretty interesting with the culture and it is so different from the US and even Lima. Animals are everywhere and cattle are walking in the streets. Also there are crazy amounts of dogs, so many! But I do love it here, the people are so nice, and the little kids just love me because of my freckles and all that my whiteness entails. They always call me a gringo or tourist while I pass them in the street. I think it is quite hilarious.

Our investigators are doing well. We actually have a baptism this Saturday for Jhon, a younger guy. We are so excited. All others are pretty good, my Spanish is improving more rapidly each day and I am learning so much from Elder Martinez.

Sicuani is pretty exciting and I am so happy to be here for the next 3 months. My testimony has grown so much so far and I am learning so much also. I miss everyone like crazy and hope the best for all of you. But I am here doing the Lords work and I am loving it forever! These two years will be so quick and I will be back before you know it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Week 5 from the CCM

Hey everyone!!

Cant believe it has been 5 weeks here at the CCM and that this is my last week of training before I go out into the field in Cusco. I am just so excited to go and do all the things that the Lord wants me to do!

Well, this week wasn't too crazy or exciting. First I need to explain about conference last weekend because I forgot for some reason last week. Lol But conference was amazing and I just loved hearing from all the prophet and apostles! My favorite talk was Bednar's talk at the very end about sharing the gospel with others because it is just so important to me and such a blessing to have.

I learned a lot about sharing my thoughts to all you and just wanting you all to know how important this work and this mission is for me. You all have been a great support, and I hope you can feel the love that I have for this church. Other topics that hit me was about the sacrament, tithings and fast offerings, and personal revelation. Overall it was a wonderful spiritual experience and I just loved that whole weekend.

Well now to this week. First of all, I have gained like 15 lbs here for some reason. I never have before, and me being a lanky tall kid, it is weird having that much more weight on you this fast haha. But I guess thats what I get for eating a bunch of rice and carbs all day and not really working out all that much.

This week I also have improved a massive amount in my Spanish ability. I was able to write a whole talk in Spanish for Sacrament Meeting and it was pretty awesome saying things that I never really knew I knew how to say. Our investigators are doing well, our lessons are coming together at times, but we still are far from being great Spanish lesson-givers. Also I was able to listen to a few devotionals only in Spanish without using a translator and being able to understand a big amount of all of it! So exciting! I just can’t wait til I am fully fluent. Which by Christmas is my goal to be fluent!

I was able to go to the temple again today. And I was also able to understand the whole endowment session only in Spanish, so again, being here has increased my ability to understand the conversations. But today was the best session yet, feeling the Spirit stronger than in any other lesson. I was also able to pick up some Spanish scriptures (which I will be using every day so I got myself some nice ones), a Spanish hymn book, and a few things of snacks. So today was a nice P-Day for sure.

Finally in my studies, I haven't read as much in the Libro de Mormón but I was able to read a lot in the English one and have now gotten to Alma 36. So my studies are coming along fairly well and I am so excited to leave here and actually start my full mission in Cusco! I will be leaving Tuesday morning very early but I won’t know exactly when until Monday. But one thing is that I might be able to call someone at the airport, so keep an eye out for a call on Tuesday morning, if I am able to. I have heard rumors I might.

I am doing well still, I miss everyone like crazy and am always praying for you guys! Thanks for all the prayers and love! But this will be the last email here at the CCM, and I won’t be emailing next week since I will be traveling, so look for an email or update the week after this week. Well, have a wonderful week everyone, and remember to do what is right! haha

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 4 from the CCM

Hey everyone!!

Only two weeks more in the CCM. Everything is going pretty well here at the CCM. This week wasn’t too crazy or as exciting as some others but there has been a lot of growth for me. First off, I started to read only stuff in Spanish and not in English, so I am trying to grow in my Spanish learning faster by doing this. So I have finished 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon and it is so awesome to understand parts of what I am reading, so that is an improvement. Also I have started to study the Predicad Mi Evangelio only in Spanish, so my vocab is growing just from studying that for an hour a day at least. My grammar classes are going well also. I learned so much from my lessons and I have been able to practice them a lot with the Latinos in the CCM right now, so more practice.

Elder Larkin, my companion, and I are doing pretty well. No problems have ever arose between us. He isn't catching onto the language as much but I am trying my best to help him out. Our lessons with the investigators are going well, we have the Restauración lesson down pat and we have been getting better at teaching the Plan de Salvación also. We are still trying to be the best at lessons but sometimes it is so hard to say something in Spanish that you know so well in English.

Also in our district, we got new teachers in the morning yet again! So we have two female maestras for the morning class now. They are so nice and are really sweet to our whole district. They will be our teachers the last two weeks I am here. But our district is so crazy at times. We probably have the craziest one and sometimes that gets in the way of the spirit in our classes. We have gotten better over the last week though, and it is pretty crazy still, but we have learned to be more reverent. I’m trying my best to keep my sanity around some of them, but we have gotten so close and just love each other.
Also another thing that has occurred is that we got new roommates yet again because our Latino roommates left after their two weeks. So we got 3 new roommates in our room and they are all Latinos again. So more practice with Spanish for me again! It is actually quite helpful. But we haven't talked to them much yet.

Also, we got to go to the temple again today and again it is such a blessing to be able to visit the house of the Lord. So amazing inside and I will definitely miss the opportunity I have to go here in the CCM when I don't have a temple in Cusco to go to. So it was my fourth time going to the Lima Temple here. We shopped around after at the store. I got a lot of snacks as usual, but everything is so cheap here. The Peruvian sol is like 3 soles for 1 American dollar. So I can buy a pack of cookies for about a dollar here. So I am enjoying that for sure. haha If anyone wants me to buy them something, it is pretty cheap here, haha.

Oh and on another note, something I found out was so weird. Another Hermana here at the CCM also has a family of 14 kids!! How crazy is that!? I just though it was so weird because I was always the one with the biggest family around, so definitely weird. Well, most of the weeks to come will be pretty quick and my time here in Lima is coming to an end. Crazy to think I have been here for 1 MONTH, WOW!

Miss you guys like crazy! I can definitely feel all your prayers for sure! I just want to let everyone know that I love you guys! I am trying my best to learn the language and get ready for Cusco, but at times it is hard. But I know that with the help of prayer and with the help my Savior Jesus Christ I can get through this. This is definitely one of the hardest things I have done and it really hasn't even started yet, but I am so excited to get out in the field. But next week will be my last email to you guys at the CCM because I leave the next week and I wont be able to email that week since I will be transferring to Cusco. So I hope all of you guys are doing well and are blessed. Love you! Talk to you guys next week!

PS-------  Watch the video “Missionary Work and the Atonement” on Youtube!! So goood!! Definitely a humbling video.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Week 3 from the CCM

Hey everyone!

Everything is going so well here at the CCM. Lots of learning this week for sure. We have had so many new Spanish grammar lessons. Most are review for me, but they are still helping me get back into all the Spanish and learn way more. I have actually been able to memorize a few scriptures in Spanish and also the first vision in Spanish, so that is going very well.

Because I have done so well in my class, my afternoon teacher, Hermano del Aguila thought that I should switch over to a whole Latinos district and get a Latino companion, because it would help me so much. I know it will, but I really don't want to be in a whole new district my last two weeks here, and just be totally clueless in most of my classes and Sundays. So I am probably not going to that. I have prayed and fasted about it, and it came to me that I should probably not do it. I just love my district so much.

Elder Larkin and I have also been teaching our investigator lessons, once or twice a day. We have the Restoration lesson down pretty well, but haven't taught the Plan of Salvation or Gospel of Jesus Christ lessons much. We have gotten better at testifying and teaching in Spanish for sure, but for most of the lesson it is still pretty hard to come up with words. We are studying a lot, lots of new vocab and phrases, but just practicing is the best way to do it. We like it, but most of the time it is very stressful.

Also the other night I was able to hear a talk live from one of the members of the Quorum of the Seventy, Hermano Calderon. He gave a wonderful talk on baptism and the firmness of that lesson and just how important it is to our salvation. Also we got a new District Leader, so I am not it anymore. He is a hard worker and I know he will help our district out a lot by setting a good example.

Again, our new roommates who are Latinos are just so funny and so awesome to have in the room. I and my companion have learn so much Spanish just talking with them at night. Both are from Honduras and they just are awesome. They leave next week, so we will get new companions yet again. Another big thing is that our morning teacher Hermano Ruíz is leaving the CCM, so we won't have him anymore. Ruíz is seriously the most caring and kind teacher I have ever had, and he teaches with a special spirit each day. No matter the lesson, he just loves teaching us and just loves what he does. Before every class he greets us all by name and hugs us and says ´´¨le amo´´. He is so short so it is kinda cute, but it is so sad to see such a nice man leave.

Finally I was able to go to the Lima Temple yet again, and do another endowment session. It is just such a blessing to be able to go each week and feel the spirit so strong in the temple, and just perform the Lord's work. I just love going each week and I will miss it when I am in Cusco because they don't have a temple.

But before I go, I want to just thank you all for the wonderful examples all you have been and that I am here now, serving a mission. I just know that what I am teaching is true. I know that the spirit is real and can influence you to what is right. I have felt the power of prayer here more than I have ever. I have prayed here more than ever and it has made me realize that the Lord will answer your prayers. I know it. Before each lesson with an investigator, we will pray and every time we do that, it helps our lesson out so much and the person we are teaching just knows that we are teaching the Lord's word. Thanks for all the prayers also, I have felt them so much. Again, I can't send any pictures here until I am out in the field, so all my pictures with friends and teachers and the temple will have to wait, sorry. Send me pictures for sure, I just love seeing them, makes me happy.

Well, 3 more weeks here and I will head out to Cusco, so wish me luck as I continue this path.

**Turns out Mason could actually send one photo