Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 13, 2015 Seeing the New Trujillo Temple at Night

April 13, 2015
     It’s interesting that as one becomes adjusted to being a missionary how time seems to speed up.  I know I’ve mentioned such before but it is the truth. The weather here in Trujillo has actually been quite nice and is why I like the climate here (apart from the summer months). It is typically sunny in the 70’s with a light breeze and it will remain like that basically until November. I am also enjoying this time I have with my companions who are pretty awesome. We’re all basically at the same level with just a good sense of comradery, undoubtedly stemming from the fact that we come from the same group of missionaries (in the Lima MTC). We just have a lot of fun together and are feeling the spirit as we teach. I will admit that I kind of felt like a new missionary during my first week back, but now I felt comfortable as a missionary again and of course I am enjoying it. Well, let’s dive into my week.
     We spent last P-day as a zone which wasn’t a bad way to start having P-days again. We had a barbeque which I have to say was very tasty. Then we watched a movie and as we did we heard a loud thud.  After running outside, we could see that a neighboring roof had blown off and fallen onto the busy street where a motorcycle and taxi were stuck under it. The other missionaries cleared the debris, freeing those trapped underneath (I couldn’t help with my wrists).  Both people trapped, walked away without injury which was truly a miracle - So sometimes life gets a little interesting here.
     On Tuesday we had our monthly zone conference which was a first for me as President Marler was present.  It was very edifying and I enjoyed the emphasis on the need to really study the doctrine to better our knowledge. With such use we can better teach and explain gospel truth in a concise and precise way to which the Spirit can bear witness.  Applying such an ideal to our companionship studies has brought noticeable improvement.  The President also explained that the sister missionaries would be assisting with the “Open Doors” (called Open House in the US) sessions at the temple and that the Elders wouldn’t be doing so. We will only get to watch the dedication from one of the stake buildings.
     Anyway, on the topic of temples, one of our investigators comes to mind.  A___ is a civil engineering  student that has been investigating for a couple months. He’s quite a lot of fun to teach as I enjoy teaching educated people, especially engineers. He’s progressed a lot, saying in his own words that he was basically atheist before but now has come to the knowledge that God and Christ truly exist. He really is trying to investigate every little part of the church which is good, but it is also hindering him from taking the next step.  So on Thursday we took him to the temple.  Pictures are attached which don’t do it justice as it is extremely pretty in person. We had a short little lesson with him outside the fence and it was easy to see the power of a temple to have an effect on him, even an undedicated temple. I feel and hope that A__ will take that next step, but we’ll just have to patiently press forward.
     We’ve also had the chance to visit and meet with many awesome investigators and members here in Vista Alegre. There are so many, many people I’d love to include in these letters, but such would be impossible.  One last lesson that stands out though is one we had with A__'s less active mother, M____.  Upon our initial invitation to read the Book of Mormon daily (something that 99% of inactives don’t do at all) she said she hadn’t read in years. To which I felt impressed to testify of its changing power that I have noted in my life. It was completely by the Spirit and I couldn’t really remember what I said after the fact, but the Spirit was very present. To which she heart fully said, “I promise you I will read day.” I have never heard someone reply with such conviction during the entirety of my mission.  It was very cool.
     We also had interviews this past week in the mission home (which is a 5 minute walk away).  In the tradition of things, my interview was one of the shorter ones, but it was cool as we spoke about the importance of faith and how with such we could do whatever is necessary (Moroni 7:33, Jacob 4:6). It was a very enjoyable conversation. We also got to listen to Sister Marler share her powerful conviction of Christ and each received a new copy of the Book of Mormon with the instructions to read it like a novel highlighting each reference to Christ ( a classic missionary challenge). It should be fun.
     This past weekend also entailed a stake conference in which an area seventy was present and offered some powerful addresses. I also got to see the Marlers a couple of times as they were there.  I seem to run into them quite often. Well, those are some of this week’s highlights.  I hope that this will find you all well and that each and every one of you have a great week. iHasta a la proxima semana!

April 6, 2015 Happy to Be Back in Peru after Surgery

Week 38? (+ 6 weeks at home for surgery )

     Well, I am back in Trujillo and working as a missionary. It’s be a while as I was home for bi-lateral wrist surgery.  It has been awesome to put back on my missionary plaque (name tag) walking the streets here again. There really is a special spirit that missionaries get to enjoy as we devote all our time to serving the Lord.  I visited with missionaries while I was home but there is such a difference in being here in my mission teaching the people whom I was called to serve.  The weather here also has been perfect, kind of like spring in San Diego. It is especially nice near the coast where I am in Vista Alegre (it is couple blocks from the beach) which is the same area that I was in before.  I am in a trio of missionaries with Elder C__ and Elder S___ as my companions. They are both Americans that went through the CCM(Lima, Peru MTC) with me. It’s been fun to work together and have a lot of fun doing it. And well I better move on to how my week went.

     I left my house at 6:00 p.m. Sunday the 29th and due to some complications I arrived Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. It was a lot of traveling but I am happy to be here. I was greeted by Sister Marler and 2 office  Elders, and then proceeded to drive by the finished temple and then we got to eat at Chile’s (which is extremely expensive in Peru).  Well then I met up with my new companions at the mission home and then proceeded to my area.

     It seems to me that whenever I find myself with a new companion (or new companions in this case) that the very 1st lesson is quite spiritual and special. I remember my 1st lesson with Elder Palacio as we taught the Plan of Salvation to a new investigator that I felt the Spirit stronger than I’ve ever felt. None of us were prone to crying , but no one had a dry eye as we ended that lesson to tell him where his best friends was (who had died). Now to return to the present, we were blessed to have a great 1st lesson here also we taught Ronald about how the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ so powerfully.  As we did the Spirit enveloped the room which was a nice change as I had taught him before I went home for surgery he hadn’t had quite the same warming experience.  Now after that lesson we had to put our shoulders to the wheel as it were to learn to teach effectively as a trio.

     We’ve made a lot of progress and we really build off one another, though we do need to practice some more.  I remember the lesson that we had with Henry, a young adult of 18 that I’d contacted before I left for surgery, was particularly fun. We were able to teach with regard to the 10 commandments well and really had a unity as we taught that surprised me. I was also excited to see that Henry had completely changed from the person I met just 6 weeks before. It was easy to see how the fullness of the gospel is working a change of heart as the scriptures say. This has happened to the point that his religious mother has taken note of the changes in her son, and she has wants to investigate, too.

     On Friday we got to take part in a multi-stake Easter program put on by the mission. It was similar to our Christmas program in that the missionaries sang as a chorus amongst various solos, videos, and testimonies. It was very cool and brought back a lot of memories from December and also directed my thoughts toward the Savior. The following day we headed to the stake center to listen/watch conference.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we would have the opportunity to listen to it in English which was awesome. I understand in Spanish, but listening to a translator just isn’t the same. I really noticed a pattern with regard to the family and the surmount importance it has in our lives. It was interesting though as nearly each talk seemed to be addressed directly to me. I’ve heard that cliché phrase before but never really experienced it so that was pretty cool.

     As I draw this letter to a close I would like to wish each of you a great, happy Easter! To think of how our Lord and Savior triumphfully surcame the infinite costs in Gethsemane and Calvary of the atonement as he rose on the 3rd day is something beyond words. May we all remember his sacrifice, his triumph of death, and his triumph over the world. May we more fully apply that in our lives. For now I bid you all a great week from Trujilo, Peru! Chau!


February 9, 2015 Baptism of Janta



           Well, this marks the end of yet another transfer here in the Peru, Trujillo mission. This last Tuesday also marked 8 months since I left the States. This has been an interesting transfer as I have gone through 2 companions and several other challenges, but that is how we learn and grow. To keep with tradition I’ll let you know at the end if my companion or myself are being transferred. Now apart from this week marking the end of the transfer, it has been an awesome week as we’ve taught with the spirit and had some other fun things occur which I’ll get into.

     The past p-day was kind of fun. We headed together as a District (just the 4 of us) to Central to withdraw money for the month as we were very much broke. Then we wrote our families and friends at a nearby internet place with some really old Windows XP computers. Then we headed to Pizza Hut for a pizza filled lunch which was enjoyed. And well not too much happened after that but the pizza was a highlight for sure.

     The next day at the weekly district meeting was interesting as the Zone leaders presented the goal to have a total of 24 reactivations and baptisms in February which is double of what we had a goal in January (which wasn’t accomplished). However, I trust that it’ll be possible as we work toward it. Later that day we had a really awesome lesson with the mother of some recent converts. She is really cool and attends church regularly, but she isn’t married and therefore isn’t a member; a very common occurrence in South America (unmarried parents). The problem is that the husband doesn’t want to be married nor does he want to pay for it ( it is much more expensive and difficult than the States where basically anyone can perform a wedding). Despite all that, I felt a very clear and strong impression to invite her to be baptized the 28th of February. I don’t know if it will be possible, but we will do all we can to push forward with her trusting in the Lord to provide a way to do it. We’ll see what happens.

     We also have had two really cool lessons with less active members this week. The first one occurred with V___ who told us before that she was only baptized for her daughter and had no testimony of the truthfulness of the church. She actually liked the Evangelist church more. However, as we taught her we helped her understand the importance of asking our Heavenly Father whether these things are true. She accepted the invitation and in the next lesson after we watched the Restoration film, she told us that yes she got her answer. She now believes that the church is true and is excited to come to church. With the other person, Isila, she also had never asked, we had invited her to ask in the past, but she never did so with much effort. So this last time she told us, like V__ did, that she really asked to know if it was all true and well she got her answer, too. To which I shared Alma 12:28, 41 to help her understand such an answer was only the beginning, only the seed of a firm testimony. However, if she nourishes it, it will grow into a tree of testimony which will lead to eternal life. The spirit was so strongly present in both the lessons confirming the truth of their answers and the truth of our words. They now have a chance to press forward. Like I have said before, there truly is a power behind the invitation to read, ponder and pray with respect to the Book of Mormon and the Restoration.

     On Friday we attended an activity with the Elder’s Quorum in which Ephraim’s Rescue was viewed. The acting wasn’t going to win an Academy Award, but the message that I took from it impacted me. Briefly the film is about a man who discovered the church and later become one of the men who rescued the Martin Handcart company. In doing so he learned to humbly magnify his spiritual gifts/ talents in his case the gift to heal. It really made me meditate on the talents I have and how I need to fully realize and use them to be prepared for whatever the Lord has in store for me later on during the mission and during the rest of my life.

     Saturday marked the day for my 2nd baptism. We have been able to work with our neighbors as the father came back from a time of inactivity and to be able to baptized his daughter. Janta, his 9 year old daughter, has been fun to work with as she wanted to be baptized from day 1. Now seeing them dressed in white together with the rest of their family was a sight to see. The baptism was very cool and as Janta gave her powerful testimony the spirit was very strong. It was a day to remember.

     Sunday was transfers, but before I get into that I’ll procrastinate a little. In the morning I got to give a talk about conversion which went very well which made a fitting end to my time here in Gran Chimu. The zone leaders called to let us know that I will be transferring to Central, to be companions with Elder Anderson. So that should be interesting… I get a new companion again, my 4th one within the last 6 weeks. Anyway, have a great week, Chau from Peru!