Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December 21, 2015 Christmas Concert and going to the temple

     Hard to believe that I find myself writing another one of these weekly entries, it seems like I just wrote the last one. This past week was definitely a unique one as it contained some experiences that I probably won’t experience again during my mission. Like I mentioned in my previous letters, being a missionary this time of year is a very special time and this is the last time I’ll get to experience it here in Peru serving as a full-time missionary.

     On Monday we headed to the mission office to practice for the Christmas show that we would be doing later on during the week. It was fun to see some other missionaries and watch some of the musical numbers. I ran into Elder Parkinson who is doing great in Casa Grande. He told me that P and J received the Melchizedek priesthood and that their respective families are doing very well. It’s hard to explain the happiness one feels as he hears that families he’s helped come unto Christ are doing so well in their pressing forward, it means a lot. I also heard that E finally obtained a very certain answer that this is the one and only true church of Christ, and that she is doing very well. After the practice we went to the mall with our zone and had a good lunch and did a little shopping. Those who know me know that I’m not a big shopper but I do like eating.

     Last week I cited Isaiah’s prophesy of the temple in our day and well this week I got to return again to help me learn more of the Lord’s way and walk more in his paths. I was a little sick before going to the temple which wasn’t seemingly perfect timing, however during my time inside I could no longer feel the achy pains of being sick. I was simply filled with the peaceful influence of the spirit. It was there in that moment when I was reminded that as we live worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost, there is no reason why we can’t choose to be happy in spite of whatever happens in this life. I then was able to talk to each of my missionaries in the celestial room which was pretty nice.
     Later in the week we had a pretty cool lesson with an investigator named F. She was taught previously and knows that the Book of Mormon is true and that the church is true, but hasn’t acted upon that knowledge. So we decided to go over the Restoration with her. It was hard since she owns a little internet shop and she has 2 toddlers which caused a lot of distractions. However, at the end I asked her how she feels when she attends church and when she reads the Book of Mormon. She answered that she felt something unexplainable, something undeniably different and great. I then testified that the spirit had been bearing witness to her for a reason and that he was preparing her to come unto Christ. I then asked that if she continued to feel that influence in life by the second of January, would she then be willing to follow Christ’s example through baptism and she said yes. What a special moment that was amongst all the hustle and bustle.
     This past Friday and Saturday we had the mission’s Christmas show in Trujillo’s Plaza de Armas. While walking to the Friday practice session with my companion (he had a solo so he would be going both days), I received a call from the assistants asking me to come to the mission home. It was there that I got to spend the majority of the day taking care of a sick missionary in the comfort of the mission home. However, I did get to take him later that night to watch the show and I was put on crowd control. It was a great show though there were some problems with the sound and keeping control of the crowd. The next day I got to practice with several other zones and then to got to sing in the choir. The show was a lot better organized and attended on Saturday and the special numbers were well done. It was the last show for the Marlers and myself, but it was a good one.
     Well, the Christmas season is here and this Friday we will get to celebrate that great day. Amidst the trees, gifts, reindeer, lights, candy canes, and stockings may we all remember the humble beginning and coming of our Savior into this world. The Savior whose sacrifice frees us all from sin and affliction as we follow his ever illuminating light. How dark and hopeless would be this world without his coming to it. May you all remember Him and have a very Merry Christmas!
iFeliz Navidad!

December 14, 2015 First Zone Conference as a Zone Leader

     Now the holiday season has rolled on into the middle of December. It’s been another interesting week as I worked while being better acquainted with my new calling, area and companion. In the mission we go through a lot of changes. Each new circumstance provides its own unique challenges coupled with its unique lessons to be learned. Nothing is by coincidence and in every new situation we are given the opportunity to grow and learn. Of course, our attitude has a large impact as well since if we only focus in how things were, reminiscing in the past while dragging our fee in the present, we will never be able to learn those opportunely lessons.  Thus as I’ve come here to Central Trujillo, I’ve made a lot of effort to face those challenges and learn, to learn how to take care of this little part of the Lord’s vineyard. And in the end, we have nothing to fear since the Lord will always be at our side as we strive to be worthy of his companionship and seek his merciful help.
     Now it was with all these changes that President Marler allowed Elder Sotelo and I to head to the temple to attend a session. I believe that going to this house of Lord is a very good way to clear one’s mind and provide needed guidance. For as Isaiah prophetically predicted,” in the last days…many people shall go and say..let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths,” (Isaiah 2:2-3). I know that as we go to the Lord’s house that he will instruct us in exactly what we need. So as we entered, all the worries that I might had had on my mind were dispersed. I could feel the Lord’s spirit envelope me in its penetrating peacefulness. It was there that I could feel God’s approval and could feel precisely what I needed to do in order to press forward. What a blessing and privilege it is to have a nearby house of the Lord.
     We also took one of our investigators, Y, to the temple this past week for a special lesson in the temple grounds. In Trujillo there aren’t very many calm, peaceful places, but the temple grounds are very still and peaceful, so as we walked around the temple with Y, the Spirit could be felt even outside the temple. It was then that we sat down on a bench and started to explain what the house of the Lord is and why they’ve been and still are eternally important. After explaining the temple to her, we asked her if she had any questions. She simply expressed that she now had the strong desire to prepare herself to enter. It was a very special moment and a testimony builder to see the converting power of the temple here in Trujillo.
     This past week we also had our zone conference which I’ve experienced many times in the mission, but this was my first time as a zone leader. Thus it was my responsibility to train my zone according to the vision that President Marler had shown my companion and myself during the monthly leadership counsel. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel all that nervous even though President Marler was present. We made it Christmas themed and with the help of some sister missionaries we decorated the chapel and even had a Christmas tree. We spoke a lot about this special time of year to work as a missionary when people’s hearts are a little softer. Also, we spoke about how the church has made a short video for Christmas entitled, “A Savior is Born.” So I in the end my first zone conference worked out.
     A few weeks ago I received a short email from my brother which made me laugh a little when he expressed that I must be a focused missionary since I’m forgetting my English. I laughed because he wasn’t wrong, even as I write this letter I’m having to translate my thoughts (which are in Spanish) to English. I really don’t get to speak English much since I’m in Peru. However, this past week we met 2 less actives, J and R, who are famous amongst missionaries for the American food that they prepare. R is a gringo from Texas who married Jacky (who is Peruvian) and now they live here in Trujillo. He doesn’t speak Spanish so for the first time during my mission I had to teach a lesson in English (luckily Elder S speaks English, too) which was a little difficult, but it was very spiritual. The spirit was strongly present as we started to help him better understand spiritual truths in his native tongue. He is in a tough situation having to try to learn and live the gospel in a language he doesn’t know. So I felt that we were exactly where we needed to be as we helped him start to better understand these things. So it appears that we will be having some more lessons in English in the future. Well, hope all of you continue to make the most of the holiday season. Have a great week!


December 7, 2015 Farewell Party from Casa Grande Ward after 8 months in that area

Well, it appears that the Christmas season is once again come around as December now passes by. I am now in the city center of Trujillo which presents a very different set of pace in comparison to Casa Grande. It is a lot different living and proselyting in the heart of all the hustle and bustle. However like I said, the Christmas spirit is starting to make itself more and more present, and more and more trees can be seen along with Christmas lights and all the familiar Christmas traditions. It’s that same spirit that softens the hearts of people worldwide, especially here in Peru, making it an excellent time to be a full time missionary. I couldn’t think of a better month to represent our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, reminding all of his enabling, infinite atonement as we celebrate his humble birth.
     Last Monday I spent my last day in Casa Grande. The Fackrells( a senior missionary couple) invited us and the rest of the zone over for a late Thanksgiving meal which included some very tasty turkey and some delicious pie. Then I was privileged to enjoy a great family home evening with the Rameriz family about the function of the temple in our salvation and how so many sacred ordinances there bring us nearer to God and further protect/fortify us against opposing forces.  It is such a fundamental part in forming a strong eternally gospel-centered family. It was a fitting end to my teaching them. Then we had a “family home evening” which actually turned into a ward farewell for me.  It wasn’t anticipated but everyone came and shared their farewells, thus ending a chapter of my mission that I’ll hold very dear. It’s hard to describe, to fully describe, the love one develops for so many people after serving them for nearly 8 months.
     On Tuesday I headed down to Trujillo for transfers and it was there that I got to meet my new companion, Elder S__. He is from Arequipa, Peru and has been in the mission for 23 months. So this will be his last transfer. He’s my twelfth companion and is fairly different than any other companion I’ve had, but I suppose as missionaries we do have the opportunity to learn how to work with people.
     We were blessed to meet a very prepared investigator named Y. She’s a single mother how is going through some challenges right now, but is looking for the “right path.” After sharing the Restoration with her we simply invited her to pray about its authenticity. In the next lesson after feeling a strong spirit during our presentation of the Book of Mormon she shared that she had prayed then dreamt of the first vision. She had received an answer which the Spirit reminded her of. It was a very special moment that reminded me how the Lord will answer everyone’s prayers as they truly ask with faith and pure intent. It’s amazing how things so small and simple like prayer can make all the difference and cause big things to happen.
     As a zone leader, I’ve certainly been more occupied in this past week then in previous weeks. However, on Thursday I got to attend my first leadership counsel, which refers to the meeting of all the zone leaders, sister leaders, office missionaries, and the Marlers. We were trained in the vision  that President Marler and the assistants had for the coming month and it certainly was an interesting experience. The assistants spoke a lot about Christmas and the church’s new “A Savior is Born” video. President Marler spoke on how the church can become more established here in our mission. He mentioned how truly established the church depends on really having the desires to do so, we have to work with all our heart if we truly want to find success. So now I need to work with my companion and the sister leaders to prepare our zone conference transmitting this vision to the rest of our zone.
     Well, I hope the rest of you have an excellent week and make the most of this special time of year.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 1, 2015 Last Day in Casa Grande - transferred to Trujillo

     This week marks yet another transfer cycle here in Casa Grande. I’ve been here for 30 weeks and it’s been a pleasure to watch the Lord perform miracle after miracle as people who I love have overcome obstacles following the steps of Christ. I’ve trained two missionaries and made many friendships which I hope to maintain for a lifetime. The Lord prepares his children,”preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word” in every part of his vineyard. It’s a work he’s been up to since the foundation of the world and thus in every part of his vineyard there are our people whom we are called to better prepare and prepared people we’re meant to find. However, the Lord doesn’t give us some sort of list a map to find them. We have to rely on the spirit to guide us supporting our faith and diligence. And thus we work hard to find those in the Lord places in our path who are waiting specifically for us. So in these past few months I’ve done everything I could to find those prepared sons and daughters of God, and help better prepare others for the future.
     On Monday I decided to take my district to “el brujo” once again. We ate at a Chifa (a Peruvian Chinese restaurant) before leaving which was really good and then headed over in a van that we hired. It always impacts me to see how the culture used to be here at a place that dates back civilizations that existed as early as 5000 years ago. There is so much history in this country. We then got to end the night with the R family and the Y family and their respective family home evenings. They are all doing well as they take one step in each and every day in their path toward eternal families.
     During these past few months Elder Parkinson and I have talked a lot about how as missionaries we need to teach people, not lessons. How we need to help people with their personal conversion on the path of discipleship rather than just regurgitating some robotic missionary discussion. This past week we had a critical lesson plan with Marlene in order to finish lessons so we can officially reactivate her. However, when we started she indicated that she had not read the book of Mormon.  So rather than simply inviting her to read and move on with our planned lesson, we decided to read with her and apply the Scriptures to her and then listen to what she had to say. As we did so the spirit touched her heart and she opened up expressing how she was going through many trials and could barely hold it together. The passage we are reading just happened to detail Christ’s atonement and we testified with the spirit about Christ power to heal wounded/afflicted souls. She could then understand why there are things in the gospel that could lighten her burdens rather than add to them. It was a very spiritual lesson which occurred because we focused on her and her needs.
     On Wednesday we headed to Trujillo in order to attend a ward council  training. It was given by Elder Juan Uceda (the northwestern area president) and he focused a lot on the importance of going to the temple frequently. He also did a visual example of the eternal impact of helping a family become firm in the gospel, by having members of the audience go up representing the future generations of an active family - how having just one family quickly multiplies (it was very impactful from a missionary perspective).
     On Thanksgiving Thursday I headed to Ascope to interview five baptismal candidates to be baptized on Friday. I started at 3:30 and ended at 8:40 making for a very tired Elder Pulsipher. It was certainly an interesting Thanksgiving. The following day we returned to Ascope in the evening to attend the baptisms in the presence of Pres. and Sister Marler. It was very special to witness them get baptized and the car ride back with the president was convenient.
     It was then on Saturday that during a fairly uneventful day I received a call from Pres. Marler.  He asked me if I would accept the call to be as a zone leader. It came as a surprise, but accepted.  So it turns out that I will be leaving Casa Grande. However, I know that I’m leaving my area in good hands. Elder Parkinson is an exceptional missionary.
     I’ll be heading to the central zone which is located in central Trujillo, my area will include the Plaza de Armas of Trujillo. It was the previous zone that I was in so I am returning. I will be with Elder Sotelo so it should all be very interesting.
     I need to pack so have a great week!

November 23, 2015 Another Wonderful Week in Casa Grande

     It’s hard to believe that this week will bring with it Thanksgiving, how the holiday season sure has come fast. As I’m sure many of you can guess Peru doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving so I’ll just move on to how this last week went. I mentioned last week how each day and week there are unique experiences waiting for as and this past week was no exception. Elder Parkinson and I continue to work hard here in Casa Grande strengthening this part of the Lord’s Vineyard. We’ve been seeing more and more success as we become united in all we do. When we first started some three months ago, we could easily see that we were very different individuals. However we worked hard from that day to find common ground and learn to work in unity, having fun. We’ve had success in such and are loving the work here together working hard to achieve our goals. For as Christ said, “If ye and one aren’t mine, ye aren’t mine.” Unity is so important especially as missionaries so we can put all efforts toward the same goal, enjoying ourselves as we do so, thus being enabled be on our abilities by the spirit.
     Last day we head up to P which is just a little north of Casa Grande. There we got together as a zone to spend some time together. While the rest of the zone played soccer, I helped Elder Priatt (the zone chef) prepare some barbecue chicken pizza which actually turned out to be really tasty. It was by far some of the best pizza I’d in Peru. Then we had a cool family home evening with E, who recently has been reactivated. We spoke a little with respect to the Plan of Salvation and about how it should guide us in all that we do. Understanding where we come from, why we are here, and where we are going certainly helps us to look at things from a larger perspective and help to focus on what really matters. How important it is that we use each and every day to help us in our eternal progression rather than simply becoming overly occupied with other things that don’t have as much eternal significance. With all this in mind, E and Y have been pushing forward reading  their scriptures each day and magnifying their respective callings.
     As missionaries there is a lot of joy in seeing the spiritual progress and converts. This past week the R's family went through a very tough trial as Louis was rushed to the hospital with his appendix at the point of bursting. He was put through emergency surgery and all went smoothly. It was a hard trial for the family, but I was very impressed when they told me that they were glad to go through it as it helped them see the importance of family prayer and scripture study. Despite all the inconvenience that such a trial had, they immediately chose to look at it from the larger perspective and used it to better center their family on Christ. It showed a lot of spiritual maturity, knowing that trials can strengthen our faith and conversion rather than some excuse to give up.
     M is continuing to progress a lot as she is fully committed herself to the gospel. She’s the type of person who when she puts her mind to something does it with all she’s got. Thus it’s been with her return to the church after several years. She also referred us to another less active, V, who hadn’t attended church in over 10 years. She turned out to be really cool and still carried a testimony. We’ve worked with her with the ward’s help for the past two weeks and she attended church this past Sunday for the first time in a while, while 10 years! She later told us that the spirit touched her heart and it was a very positive experience. The Lord has been working miracles with less actives as well.
      Well I bid you all a great week. Enjoy Thanksgiving with hearts full of gratitude for what really matters. Next week marks the next transfer cycle so we’ll see what will happen to me… Happy Thanksgiving!

November 16, 2015 A Week that was Distinct and Wonderful

PHOTOS ARE BELOW EACH LETTER!     In the mission there are weeks that pass by which are fairly routine, for lack of a better word, in terms of normal missionary activities. This past week was not one of those weeks. Between several missionary meetings and ward activities, and various other things, this week has been rather distinct. However, I am starting to learn that more often then not there really aren’t all that many “normal weeks” in the mission or in life. Perhaps sometimes we might find ourselves falling into the daily routine, however as we truly seize the day and live up to our full potential there are a myriad of distinct experiences waiting for us. Perhaps we’ll further come to realize how this life is a journey, rich of life changing moments, toward eternal happiness, and not simply a repetitive daily “routine.”
     On Monday, we followed a member, A, toward a nearby Twin (there are lot of ruins in Peru, the majority are unprotected). It led to a fun afternoon as a district and it was pretty cool to see ancient American constructions that date back centuries, though many artifacts had clearly been dug up and robbed. There is a lot of history which is very visible across this whole country.  We then had a family home evening with a less active we had just started teaching, V, who has been inactive for many years.  However, she we surprisingly animated to receive us and even invited a non-member friend over, M, who was very interested in investigating the church.  We covered a few questions and then shared a very spirit-filled message detailing who Jesus Christ is and what he did for us.  Taking a moment to simply testify of our heart and Savior was certainly memorable and impactful since the Spirit so clearly confirm and the truthfulness of our words.
     The next day we had zone conference which is always a little fun.  This time though we were kicked out of the church for surprise fumigation and then got to watch smoke billow out of the church for 40 minutes. So we then continued the conference outside in the hot noon sun and Elder Parkinson and I were then chosen to demonstrate how to teach the Restoration in front of the whole zone. It was certainly the hottest, sunniest lesson I’d ever taught. We then mercifully were able to return inside to finish the training. So it was certainly a very unique zone conference, but the spirit was still there to teach us.
       Then the next day we had interviews with President Marler during which we discussed giving our heart to God. It isn’t enough to just do what we’re commanded to do, if our hearts, and desires aren’t in it. Thus the scripture states that we’ll be judged according to our works and the desires of our heart. We must strive each and every day to fully deliver our hearts up unto the Lord until we can say that we’ve had a “mighty change…in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually,” (Mosiah 5:2). A task that’ll require daily exertion for the rest of our lives, but so is the requirement to eternal life and exaltation.
       The following day Elder Parkinson flew to Lima to finally obtain his visa, so I spent Thursday with Elder Johnson who is serving nearby in Chocope and he’s been in the field for 22 months. We had a great day together which included a lesson with Rosa who I hadn’t taught in a month. She required some coaxing to sit-down with us, but she did. We then read 3 Nephi 11: 1-11 with her and helped her understand that Christ is the light of this world and that he is the light that dispels the darkness that seemingly envelopes our lives at times and that at times we might find ourselves directionless in turbulent seas of tribulation. However, his light can be seen in the distance giving us direction. In which he tenderly beckons “come unto me.”
     Following such an invitation leads us closer and closer to his ever-illuminating light, dispelling the mists of affliction that can envelope. The spirit was so strongly present changing R’s countenance and she could finally understand coming unto Christ because the spirit established such a truth in her heart. With this understanding she made the sacrifice to come to church and she told us after the 3rd hour that all of her worries and stress were wasted away. She saw the distant light and adjusted her course to come unto it.
     Later that night Elder Johnson and I then participated in the ward talent show which was very well attended. We acted out a fairly funny act which led to the death of our investigator and my own, to which Elder Johnson and I sang “God be with you till we meet again” with my playing of the guitar.
     This past Saturday we also had all of the zone’s missionaries come here to help us invite people to our ward conference and to update our ward’s directory. It was very successful since in just an hour and a half we were able to properly update the majority of the directory (no small task in Peru) and find many people to teach. It was exactly the boost this area has needed and we’ve already been able to find some very prepared individuals. The Lord is pouring his spirit in our ward and with those we help seek spiritual light in the path toward Christ. It has been great to start finding investigators and lessactives that haven’t been taught hardly ever before whom the Lord is preparing.
     Well those are some of the things to help to set his week apart. May each and every one of you we find this next week to break from the daily routine and make it count. I thank each and every one of you for your support.


November 9, 2015 The Gift of Tongues

     Greetings once again from Casa Grande! It is my pleasure to address you all again about this past week in “la valle dulce” (the sweet valley).  Elder Parkinson and I have been working hard, probably harder than ever in this part of the Lord’s vineyard.  We’ve really been striving in our calling to invite and help others come unto Christ.  As Christ once bode from the wind-tossed sea of Galilee some time ago to Peter, he invites us all to take these steps of faith to his out-stretched arms (Mathew 14:22-33).  He doesn’t command anyone to not partake of his salvation, but rather says “come unto me all ye ends of the earth,” (2 Nephi 26:24-25).  So as his set apart representatives we set out in search of those who have been prepared to accept, or accept the call and then help them take those first steps of faith striving into the path of discipleship.  Exaltation is the destination and discipleship is the journey.  The journey isn’t an easy one, but then it wasn’t my easier for he who first forged the path showing us the way.
     On Monday we took it easy and just hanged around Casa Grande.  We went to a small Chinese restaurant run by a man who immigrated from China 2 years ago, I am not sure how he ended up in Casa Grande but his food was very good. We then just spent the rest of our time cleaning and resting, a welcome break.  And in the spirit of Family Home Evening which is so essential in the strengthening of eternal families on that path of discipleship, a path that should not be taken alone, we met with the Yesquen family.  We shared a brief message about how we can come to spiritual light on the road to Damascus.  How perhaps we wait for or expect large, spectacular spiritual events in our testimony gaining, perhaps on all illuminating vision but the reality is that we’ll receive our testimony “after the trail of our faith,” (Ether 12:6). That condition usually translates into diligent searching in the gradual gaining and strengthening of our testimony which will come,” line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little,” (2 Nephi 28:30). Such a search is being on the road to Damascus which is a vital part to the journey of discipleship. We then enjoyed some pizza with them which they tried for the first time.
     In the book of Acts we read about many miracles that took part in the first few years of the early Christian church as narrated by Luke.  Amongst the many happenings received in that book, there was one occasion when a large number of people were gathered together for the day of Pentecost.  They all come from different nations and were gathered with the Twelve Apostles who, being filled with the Spirit, began to speak in the native tongues of those present.  Then following Peter’s powerful, apostolic witness of the Savior, some 3000 were baptized in the name of Christ. It can be clearly seen that the gift of tongues has been used in missionary work for quite some time. This past week I have seen this very clearly manifest through the actions of my companion.  It’s been a miracle just to see how far his Spanish has come in the past few weeks.  However, on Tuesday when asked to give a priesthood blessing of comfort, my companion placed his hands upon the person’s head and gave a blessing in perfect Spanish. There was not even the slightest grammatical error and it was so easy to see and feel the Spirit work through my companion in fulfilment to his sacred calling. All present could feel the Spirit associated to righteous priesthood service.  There have been several other experiences which confirmed to me that the gift of tongues is very real, that now the Lord helps us to speak to others “according to their language (and) understanding” like he did in times of old (2 Nephi 31:3).
     M, the son of the R family, turned 12 this past week so as a ward we organized a surprise birthday party which was well attended in support of M and his family. It meant a lot to them and it was easy to feel the love that the ward has for the Ramirez family.  Now with M being 12 he was conferred the Aaronic Priesthood this past Sunday along with this father. Watching them both received the Priesthood was certainly a touching sight. What a privilege it has been to stay here in Casa Grande long enough to see the progress of those whom I watched to be baptized.
     I hope you all an excellent week and can recognize the little miracles that occur each and every day.
I Hasta la proxima!

November 2, 2015 The Start of the Holiday Season

     Yet another week has hurried by and with it the end of October. So Happy Halloween (a few days late..)!  Now November has come around as we’ll start another holiday season and I’ll be starting another Peruvian summer.  This past week was definitely a good one full of more memories to carry with me into the future. It was a great way to end the month.  The mission provides so many spiritual and temporal lessons/experiences which will mark the future, or futures.  I liked the words of Elder Holland when he said that every good decision he has made in his life has stemmed in some way to what he learned some years ago in streets of England.  We are better molding ourselves in Christ’s tender hands for our eternal potential and helping others start the same process of mortal perfecting through the great Mediator of all mend.  What a wonder it is to take a step back at times to see life from a more eternal perspective.  However, perhaps I’ll narrow that perspective back to this past week.
     On Monday we headed over to a small nearby lagoon as a zone. Stuffing so many missionaries into a handful of motorcycle taxis was fun, but we eventually got there.  One of the elders in the zone is a very good cook and made us some exceptional chicken tacos with CafĂ© Rio style tortillas.  They were very, very delicious as Mexican food is unheard of down her. We also had some fun afterward playing game like capture the flag.  Later that night we had a family home evening with the Diaz Leon family that was very special.  Paul has been working up north in Piura and only can come down once every 2 weeks for 2 days.  He might continue as such for 6 months, so having him present on Monday meant a lot. We prepared a message about eternal families and the divine, eternal potential of their family and how their family can be sealed for time and all eternity. It helped to invite the Spirit even more in this family that is striving forward despite the many trials they face.  That in spite of it all, they take another small step each day toward entering the house of the Lord as a family.
     We returned to Y’s home on Saturday with another family from the ward. We shared a brief message about following Christ’s example through the first faithful step of baptism and then pressing forward.  Then in the spirit of American tradition, we carved pumpkins for Halloween, which some members picked up in Trujillo. It was fun to teach Peruvians how to carve pumpkins and to be a little different I decided to form a missionary pumpkin. I only had 2 minutes to make it but it still worked out.
     I also had an exchange on Friday with Elder Peek from California. He started the mission at the same time as Elder Parkinson and is part of my district. They were together in my area and the Lord was kind to bless us with a day full of appointments and spirit filled lessons.  It is always a challenge trying to teach with another missionary you’ve never worked with before but the spirit compensates and mad up for the rest.  We had an especially spirit filled lesson with W. He has a lot of real intent and is keeping his commitments to read and attend church, so when we taught him about the gospel of Jesus Christ the Spirit was almost obligated to be there since Walter is doing his part. From there the rest of the exchange went by well and it was great to better know Elder Peek who has progressed a lot as a new missionary.
     M who I mentioned last week has continued to receive us with the biggest smile dropping anything to converse with us.  She is clearly coming to feel the Spirit more and more in her life. She didn’t sleep very much on Saturday night because of a nearby party, but she still came to church and loved it. Perhaps one of the things I love most of being a missionary is being able to share the unique joy that we feel within the gospel and then see it enter or reenter into the lives of other like M.  How I love helping other partake abounding spiritual feasts that Christ offers us if we come unto Him, living up to our infinite potential.
     I hope you all start November right, enjoying every day that we have left in 2015. I thank you all for your support. I Cuidense!
I Hasta el proxima lunes!


October 27, 2015 A Morning in the Temple

Well, I’ve now been in Casa Grande for 25 weeks which is definitely longer than I originally anticipated and I will be here for at least 5 more weeks.  Being here such a long time has allowed me to form a lot of friendships here and is making Casa Grande feel like home.  After passing through many changes in areas and companions, it certainly has been nice to come here to Casa Grande and settle down from the craziness that was going on in the beginning of the year. This past week has been Spirit filled as we’ve passed through some unique experiences to which the Spirit’s has been ever present.  The Spirit is always present when we are obedient and prompt to follow spiritual impressions and I suppose that as set apart representatives of Christ it is the Spirit that gives us power and authority to truly act in Christ’s name in his great and marvelous latter-day work.  How important it is to live worthy of that Spirit and to be prepared to recognize and follow his promptings.  I imagine that in part that is why we’re here, to learn how the Spirit works, to learn how he will guide us in all that we do for the rest of our lives toward eternal life if we let him.
     Last Monday was a very relaxed P-day which we spent with the rest of the district. Since we’re all training new missionaries, no one was transferred impeding us from having a district P-day and so we met up in Ascope and watched “Minions” then played a little soccer.  I hadn’t played soccer in about 10 months so it was a humbling, fun experience for me. I might need to practice a little bit… However, to cap off the night we got to enjoy 2 excellent family home evenings with the Yesquen family and Yajaira’s family.
     On Tuesday all the trainers and trainees from the Casa Grande zone headed down to Trujillo at the end of the day in preparation for the “5 weeks” meeting the next day.  After a night’s rest in the assistant’s apartment, we left at 6:00 a.m. to a 6:30 a.m. temple session!  The famous “ hora peruana” (Peruvian standard time) played out and we got there before the temple workers, but it just gave us some time to take some photos.  Entering the temple to start off the day was certainly an experience to remember.  The calming influence is ever present in the temple like I’ve mentioned before, but this time the Spirit was ever more present than I’d experienced before. It was as if all my worries and concerns were wiped away by a nearly tangible peace.  What an edifying experience to start the day with even though I still consider myself to be the opposite of a morning person.  The meeting that followed for trainers and trainees was also pretty cool and it helped remind me of the importance in simply listening and to how simply taking a step back to listen makes all the difference.  We also got to eat some spaghetti and garlic bread which equated to a tasty lunch.
     About 4 months ago the bishop suggested that we meet and work with 2 less actives. The first was 13 year old A who we’ve since reactivated and through whom we got to meet his mother E. I’m sure many of you will recognize their names from my past letters. Now the second less active member the bishop mentioned was a younger grandmother named M. She’s in a modest home where she also has her small physical therapy practice. When we first met her 4 months ago she expressed a fear that she had errored in her decision to be baptized and that she was a firm believer of the virgin Mary.  However, we persisted in these past few months and she’s received us more and more with a bettering attitude.  Her attitude now towards the Book of Mormon has changed completely and is reading it now for the first time. She even has been offering us several treats from Cajamarca as her attitude has gone 180 degrees.  She now is excited to see us knocking on her door and actively participates asking lots of questions.  So with all that progress she came to church this week for the first time and left with the biggest smile asking us how often she could come to church in the future. She wanted to go more than once a week, clearly the Spirit impacted her, touching her heart.
     This past Sunday was also pretty special in that we got to see a special broadcast from Salt Lake City in which several seventies spoke along with Elder Anderson to the countries of Peru and Bolivia. The messages were clearly inspired and directed to Peru and led to a very special day.  Also, after working hard with  the stake through the zone leaders and our bishop, our ward finally got an Elder’s Quorum’s president and a second counselor in the bishopric which the ward’s not had for a long time and so it was cool to see fruit from our efforts.


October 21, 2015 Taking newly baptized converts to the temple

                         Week 66
         Another 6 weeks gone with the wind marking the halfway mark in Elder Parkinson’s training.  Another transfer has come to an end and I don’t know yet the transfers, but I anticipate a change to be unlikely. It’s amazing just how much the Lord blesses the work during training. Seeing the spirit work mighty changes in the hearts of G and the R family has been unforgettable. Also, watching Elder Parkinson grow so rapidly into a seasoned, powerful missionary has been such a strong testament of Spirit gifts and how the Lord uses them in the blessing of his children.  Like blessing 2 young gringo missionaries with the ability to teach and testify in a 2nd language and so with so much little experience. Elder Parkinson’s faith has truly impressed me and is the reason why he’s picked up the language so fast. In short, this past transfer and past week have reminded me how not of the testimonies of those we teach, it has demonstrated to me just how these experiences work mighty changes in our hearts. This week has certainly provided me with some of those unforgettable, testimony- building experiences.
     On Monday, we simply headed over to Elizabeth’s house to make donuts. My third time doing so and I still affirm that they taste very good. We then headed to the nearby town of Chocope to enjoy an American dinner with the Fackrells ( a senior couple serving in our zone.) Being greeted to the and smell of pot roast, mashed potatoes, and brownies was very memorable. We enjoyed a great Monday night together and left rather satisfied. Getting to better know them was also interesting making the idea of serving a mission as a senior couple rather appealing.
     It was a struggle to visit people this past week, however we were able to meet with a single mother named Rosa. She’s passed through, and still is, many difficult challenges in her life as she’s struggled to support her two children that still live with her. We had previously met with her a couple times in the past several weeks but she’d never really read or kept her commitments. Until we had an appointment with her this past week in which we tried to help her understand the Book of Mormon a little better as she isn’t very accustomed to reading. She was sort of interested, but when the member she was visiting with shared how the Book of Mormon would assuredly change her life as a mother everything changed. She felt the Spirit from his testimony and then felt the desire to read and get to know the Book of Mormon. She’s since read and is slowly progressing forward all thanks to the sincere testimony of a father which enabled the Holy Spirit to touch the heart of Rosa.
     This past Friday was also a very special day. We woke up early to head to Trujillo where we met up with the majority of the other missionaries in the mission to be trained by Elder Calderon of the Seventy.  I will admit that I went into the meeting feeling a little tired having had woken up early and having had to walk a lot in the days proceeded because of the absence of people to teach. However, as he began to speak the Spirit immediately and very noticeably filled me. I was no longer tired and worn down, but lifted up by the merciful influence of such divine power. His comments on aptitude and attitude I found to be especially impactful. That choosing to be happy always will enable us to fully live our divine potential, that maintaining a positive attitude in all situations brings power. Truths that I’ve always loved and lived, but the Lord knew it was the precise moment to remind me of those truths.  And as I did the Spirit was very strongly present. I felt renewed and very happy. We don’t have such powerful spiritual experiences all that often during which the Spirit is so strongly present, but we do receive them in the precise moment that we need them to grow and thus it was on Friday. I will also note that he was properly funny.
     Then the next day we met up with the bishop, Y and her children, the Y  family, G and four other members and headed up to the temple! Entering into the Lord’s house with our converts that mean so much was an unforgettable experience. They all brought names of ancestors to be baptized for and in behalf of. We’ve been working with the ward to help our converts do family history for the past week so helping them then take those names to the temple was very special. Y had dreamt of her grandmother (who she’d never met) several times before Y was baptized in which her grandmother was dressed in baptismal clothes. So after several months, Yajaira was able to locate the proper information (which was found through a series of miraculous events) and she was baptized for her grandmother on Saturday. G lost her sisters in a terrible bus accident nearly 2 years ago and has wanted to be baptized for her sisters since she learned about temples in January. And a couple weeks ago tears streamed down her eyes when we told her she could be baptized for her sister as soon as she wanted to (she thought she had to wait a year.)  So for all that it was a very spiritual experience. I served as a baptismal witness and I will never forget the smile Jose Yesquen had afterward. He had to wait 2 hours to be baptized, but he didn’t mention that. He was just beaming which made me really feel the true significance of my calling. How God has granted me the chance to help these exceptional people come unto him and participate in blessings like entering the temple is something that words cannot describe. To see the joy that the gospel is pouring into these humble families, into the lives of those who I consider close friends, means everything to me. It helps me recognize the eternal impact that I am having as a missionary, to recognize how I’ve been able to help best friends live a better life preparing them to enter into God’s kingdom.
     Well, that wraps up a few of the things that happened this past week. So we’ll keep pushing forward trusting in the Lord’s ever so present help. I thank you for all your support and wish you all the best!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October 12, 2015 A Long Hike with a Family

     The time has come once again for me to write this weekly account of my happenings here in Peru. We’ve had a good week; well every week is a good week, as the Lord has shown his hand in the work. It’s been a fairly normal week here with things rolling forward like always.  However, Elder Parkinson is really coming along as a new missionary, his Spanish is getting pretty good and he is becoming quite the missionary.  I’ve learned a lot from his diligence that he demonstrates each and every day which the Lord blesses him for.  In the mission we get to meet, live, and work with many companions from a myriad of backgrounds which always makes the work a little different, but there are always several things to learn from each and every one. I’ve had 11 and I’ve got no doubt that each and every one was placed into my life for a reason, never by chance or accident.  I know that missionary work, like the church, is led by revelation stemming from Christ who leads it all.

      On Monday while sisters in my district headed to Trujillo to take care of some things.  We spent P-day with the family who washes our clothes and the elders from my district. We headed to a nearby reservoir which led to a very long walk, though we might have wandered a little off the path at times.  Once we got there I was kindly greeted by the familiar sight of a damned up fresh water lake. I will admit that wakeboarding came to mind a few times, but likely there are not any boats here to tempt me, we simply hiked alongside it and enjoyed some moments together and then we made the way back to Casa Grande.  It was a good P-day though I was a little sleepy that night in a family home evening we attended.

      Once a month we have zone conferences where the zone leaders are in charge of transmitting the training they received from the president and the assistants during their monthly counsel meeting with the zone leaders of the mission.  Usually, I simply listen and take notes to what they say, but this time they asked me the night before if I would give a part of the training, even though I’d not attended the leadership counsel.  So I stayed up a little late preparing last minute for my presentation. Then the next morning I hurriedly prepared a couple slides in PowerPoint at the church.  Then to my surprise the assistants attended the same conference.  However, in the end all went well and I was able to provide my part with respect to using indicators in more effectively helping other come unto Christ.  I am starting to discover how much I like teaching others, yet I’m not by any means perfect but I like it.

     This past week we also have been working a lot with E___who is the less active who has made donuts with us a few times.  The wife of J__ who has I have mentioned before.  She’s made a lot of progress in these past few months and now is attending regularly with her 2 daughters.  It’s been very rewarding to see her start reading the Book of Mormon each day and start to attend each Sunday.  She was officially reactivated yesterday and received a calling in the nursery which she’s started to magnify. Her father from Trujillo also attended church yesterday and seeing his joy in seeing his daughter return to church touched my heart.  It made me reflect how much joy our Heavenly Father must have in seeing E___ come back to his house of prayer.  In as much as earthly parents love us, how much more does our Eternal Father love us and rejoice when we exercise our agency to come unto him through the merits and example of his Beloved Son.  God must have lots of joy in this work of helping his children come back unto him. What a privilege it is to be part of a work with such eternal significance.

     Well, that will conclude the thoughts of a young missionary from the depths of Peru.  This next week should be a good one and I believe we’ll get the opportunity to be trained by a Seventy. May each and every one of you continue forward in your individual endeavors with success remembering that Heavenly Father who watches over us.