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.

October 5, 2015 Wonderful Joy in People's Lives

     Now we’re finding ourselves in October perhaps wondering where September went. Now Spring comes here to the city of eternal spring while Fall settles in for yet another cooler season back in the states. September was a month full of miracles here in Casa Grande as the Lord prepared the way for the R___ family and G___ to more fully follow him, to really start the path toward discipleship having their minds firmly planted in eternal goals. This work has a lot of joy and there may be joyous experiences along with some challenging ones to build our faith. This past week has been of the faith building ones. We’ve had to walk a little further and look a little harder as some things fell through. However, as we’ve gotten to work through a harder week, it’s been a great opportunity to simply smile and take that next step forward. Perhaps that’s one of the lessons we learn as missionaries. That as always in life trials come, but our attitude makes all the difference between faith building diligence and depilating discouragement. We have to keep moving “onward as we glory in his name.”
     On Monday I once again headed to Trujillo, this time to accompany Elder Parkinson so he could purchase a camera since he would no longer be able to use the one he brought with him. We had a fun time with some electronics department people who clearly didn’t give 2 gringo missionaries the highest priority. However, we eventually purchased it and then dropped by the mission office and then back to Casa Grande. We were then blessed to have a great little family home evening with the Y__ family. We were able to share and testify of the divinity of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Church of Jesus Christ. This is always a special thing to do, especially with some recent converts that have strong resolves to push forward within the Restored Gospel. The Y__ family is going strong and they are faithfully reading and praying each day and they still pass through challenges, but they are forming the sure foundation, which is Christ, upon which they cannot fail.
     We have been working heavily with investigators in the past few months teaching about 15 lessons a week with investigators. During that time, the Lord has blessed us to do our small part in helping many come unto him. A truly unforgettable experience in watching the Lord work great miracles as we simply did what we were able to do, our small part. As Ammon said, “I know that I am nothing, as to my own strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things.” I’m not Ammon, but I know that in the Lord’s strength we can do all things. Now it is after this success that the Lord has caused that we have really struggled to find and teach investigators, while it’s been rather easy to teach our recent converts. As I pondered this I fully realized that we have a considerable number of recent converts to strengthen and help to continue firm in the Gospel. Even Ammon was called by the Spirit back to the land of Ishmael to “exhort (his converts). Surely, with all diligence…and they were zealous for keeping the commandments of God.” Perhaps like Ammon, the Lord has been trying to remind us of the need to improve our effort in exhorting our converts in their righteous goals. Now this doesn’t mean that’s all we will be doing, Ammon still baptized after his success in Ishmael, however I feel that the Lord tried our faith a little to remind us of the importance to belter balance our work of finding, teaching, baptizing, and retaining at the same time. So that’s what we’ll do a little better.
     We did see immense progress with the inactive son of my former Pensionista. D__ has been inactive for many years but we felt prompted to talk to him this past week and he happily accepted the offer( we have gotten fairly acquainted over the past few months). He started reading the Book of Mormon faithfully each day at 6:30 a.m. and just finished 1st Nephi for the first time in his life. He expressed how he has been wanting to listen to the missionary discussions, but simply didn’t have the confidence to ask.  He’s been listening very intently showing many true desires to come again unto Christ. He has been hungry to better understand and live the Gospel. It has been absolute joy to see a person I hold as a friend receives the Gospel back into his life with such excitement.
     The conference was a historic one that I hope we won’t be quick to forget. Three prepared men were called by the living seer, revelator, and prophet to the apostolic calling in which they’ll serve as special witness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What a marvelous occurrences clearly demonstrating the veracity of modern day revelation under apostolic and prophetic authority. I was also impressed by the simple truths shared by many.  Simply explaining that loving obedience within the Gospel of Jesus Christ will allow us the company of the Holy Ghost always and help qualify ourselves to return to the presence of our Eternal Father. It was something that I heard repeated many times in different ways by many people.
     I hope you all have a great week and make the best of every moment to grow each day through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank you all for your love and support.

September 28, 2015 Miracles in Casa Grande

      I’m back! It’s another Monday so I’m sending another weekly account of what’s transpired here in a little town in Peru.  As it appears that I’ve been theming these letters more or less, I’ll continue the trend. This past week has been one filled with many firsts for my companion and for myself. It’s been fun to experience that even after a decent amount of time in the mission there still are quite a few “firsts” out there. However, I suppose like Nephi wrote, “(God) will give (us) line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little,” so there will always be more to learn and experience as we “hearken unto (His) precepts and his counsels. As our Heavenly Father he will “teach (us) in ways of truth of and soberness.” Now as the representative of his Son, it is my responsibility and privilege to help others really understand who their Heavenly Father really is and help them to follow those “ways of truth and soberness.” I even get to grow myself along the way, one might even say that’s really why we’re here, to convert ourselves to the gospel (the way of truth and soberness) and then help others. However, before I diverge too much I’ll jump into how my week went.
     On Monday instead of simply playing soccer, I convinced them to let us go to Trujillo. I convinced a large group of missionaries to head over to Chill’s (it wasn’t hard to persuade the gringos). I promise you that eating an AMERICAN hamburger at Chili’s with milk shakes was an illuminating experience - so much so that I was willing to drop 60 soles on it. But hey one has to live a little bit.
     There are many impressions one might have in this life. Elder Parkinson had the impression to get to know a distant part of our area called Sausal so we went there on Wednesday with our Bishop. It’s about a 40 minute car ride from Casa Grande so I have no idea how that little town became part of our area, but it is. We stopped by some humble farms on the way which were home to partial member families who were overjoyed to see missionaries there for the 1st time in 6 months. The following photos describe it well. We then headed to Sausal where we were received well. It is a very beautiful town nestled in the foot hills of the mountains. Overall, I think some prayers were answered in our going there and we’ll be sure to come back in the future. Elder Parkinson was pretty tired from walking so he fell right asleep on the ride back. I was then pleased to see every one of the people we visited (except one) make it to church on Sunday.
     I’ve also made mention of the Ramirez family for the past 2 months or so - how through A__ ( a young active member, the son of E__) we met them since A_ is best friends with Martin the son of the R__ family. Thanks to A__’s eagerness to share the gospel we started to help them realize that there was something of eternal significance waiting for them. Many memorable experiences have since transpired with the Spirit’s burning witness of our unique message- the simple yet powerful invitation to exercise faith in Christ to come unto him- To not simply be hearers of the word, but rather doers of it. President Marler discussed the doctrine of “coming unto Christ“ a lot in a recent multi zone conference. He said we help (not convince) others to come unto Christ through the increase of faith in order to repent and make the necessary changes in their respective lives to live in harmony with Christ’s gospel and its saving ordinances. It is not an easy task for us to do if not impossible by yourselves, however with the Spirit’s presence it becomes very possible. As families like the Ramirez family choose to read the Book of Mormon with real intent, to attend church, and to pour out their hearts to their very Eternal Father the Spirit helps grow faith to make the necessary changes and come unto Christ.
     One of the first fruits of repentance would be baptism so when people like the Ramirez family start to follow in Christ’s steps the gate by which they must need enter would be that of baptism. This past Saturday M__ and M___ (mother and son) took that step together- entering through the gate to Christ’s straight and narrow path. It was a very well attended service and the first time during my mission I decided to sing a song on guitar for a special musical number at a baptism. It worked out very well. Both were baptized without incident and later bore short sincere testimonies. Their reactivating father L__ was also very happy. They really have come together as a family. M__ told us that we showed up at her doorstep at the precise time in their lives when God had prepared them to listen and change. It was very touching. The Lord continues to work many mighty miracles here in Casa Grande.
     So like I mentioned before it’s been a week of many firsts. The first time I’d eaten at Chili’s for a P-day, the first time President Marler was present for my district meeting, the first time I went to Sausal, the first time I played guitar at a multi-zone conference and at a baptism, and the first time I had two consecutive baptismal services (last week with G__ and this week with the R__ family).  So I wish you all an excellent week!
 I Hasta la proxima como siempre!


September 21, 2015 Baptism in Casa Grande

   Well, I suppose I’ve mentioned the word miracles quite a few time in the past few months, but there are so many that keep occurring herein Casa Grande so I’ll mention a couple more. It really has been an excellent week for us as Elder Parkinson and I have been becoming unified as we’ve gotten to know one another better. It seems like I have to get to know a lot of companions and learn how to work with them after having the 11 that I’ve had. Perhaps it’s a good thing to learn how to do. It can be hard helping a  new missionary their first few weeks, but the spirit is so very present making countless miracles possible, making an already marvelous work an even bigger wonder. Witnessing the Lord use us as instruments in his hands to answer prayers and help others come unto him is a firm testimony builder for me.
     On Monday we had a District P-day which I planned beforehand. I arranged for us to make some chocolate chip cookies and watch “The Book of Life” in the stake center (my chapel). The cookies came out a little burned since the ovens here aren’t really state of the art, but they were still very good. The movie was well enjoyed by all. I sometimes have to put a bit of effort into organizing these activities, but seeing the missionaries enjoy themselves makes it all worth it.
     I’ve mentioned before how when we are obedient, the Lord guides us all that we do during these 2 years. It is something I feel strongly about that was confirmed in small but meaningful ways this past week. We usually don’t have much time to visit members since we have so much work with investigators, less actives, and recent converts. However, on Tuesday when an appointment fell through we both felt the impression to visit a nearby member. We know her well and often drop by her window store to buy drinks, but we had never formally visited her. So when we asked her if we could visit her she looked a little surprised, but let us in. After the prayer, she opened us and explained that her son was causing a lot of family problems, basically expressing a lot of trails she was passing through. We shared some scriptures with her and she said that she had been fasting and praying for help and that we answered her prayer. That really hit me. A couple days later we were unable to find a member to accompany us, so I felt the impression to walk to a certain street. It was there that we crossed paths with the 1st counselor in the bishopric who told us he had prayed to cross paths with the missionaries. We were answering his prayer. It is amazing how the Lords uses us in the service of his other children.
     I’ve mentioned M__ and her family a few times and how they’ve progressed so much. Last week she told us that she wanted to be baptized in the future, but was still unsure. Instead of pushing her forward, we took a step back and worked with the members. They then went out of their way to serve the Ramirez family (her family). As a result of their sincere fellowshipping, M___ told us Tuesday that she wanted to be baptized and we set the goal to be on the 26th of September and she accepted! She will be baptized this next Saturday with her son Martin with their reactivated father/husband alongside. What great miracles are wrought by sincere service and love.
     Now to describe the largest miracle of the week, G___is a great sister that has large desires to follow her Savior, Jesus Christ. She’s investigated the church for over 10 years, but finally made the decision to become a member of the church. She just finished reading the Book of Mormon for the 2nd time and was without a doubt the most prepared investigator I’ve ever heard. Her firm understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Restoration has established a firm foundation for her to flourish. Her ceremony on Saturday was simple but very spiritual. Elder Parkinson got to baptize for the 1st time and carried out the ordinance like a Pro. A great way to start off his training. The testimony she then gave was so very clear, concise, and powerful. It was the 1st time I’d heard a new convert give a pure short testimony, it wasn’t a thankamony, or a storyamony, or a lessonamony, but rather a testimony. She is very converted and I’m sure there were many happy souls in heaven that day. As the scripture says there is a lot of joy in the heavens when souls come unto Christ.
     So Casa Grande continues to be a place of many miracles as the Lord is pouring out his spirit upon the people here. What a privilege it is to be in this part of the vineyard as one of God’s servants. It is hard to explain the fulfilling joy that one feels as a dedicated full-time missionary. There are also some fun times, too. This past week we had a “parables night” where we acted out various biblical parables. I dressed up as “Willie Wonka” for our take on the parables of the talents. I had umpa lumpas instead of 3 servants and I promise the act was a lot of fun. The crowd found it very amazing. Friday was also the birthday of Elder Parkinson.

September 14, 2015 A New Companion

Dear Family and Friends,
     I’ve heard many say that this life is full of surprises and I suppose that it really does translate to reality. I hadn’t expected to be back training, but that’s exactly what happened.  I’ll train for 6 consecutive months, 3 with Elder Caceres and now 3 more with Elder Parkinson. It’s something that I really enjoy since there is a very special spirit involved in the work with new missionaries. I know I am supposed to be the teacher, but I feel like I am the one learning the most. I will admit that training a gringo companion came as a surprise to me, but Elder Parkinson is great. He’s from Draper, Utah and graduated from high school this past year.  He’s almost the exact same age as my brother Brian, who was born just a week before. His Spanish is surprisingly good and he’s a hard worker that’s becoming a close friend.  I’m sure that there are probably pictures of us on the blog. 
     On Tuesday, I led the 5 other trainers to Trujillo to meet and pick-up our trainees. We sat on the left side of the chapel while the new missionaries entered and sat on the right. We then started the meeting where we got to listen to the President and the testimony of each missionary, having no idea which one would be our companion.  Then Elder Marshall started announcing the companionships and when he came to my name there were only 2 missionaries left, a gringo and a Latino. So Elder Parkinson was called and a strong embrace shortly followed. The adventure was about to begin and Elder Parkinson was about to meet a great ward in Casa Grande called Independencia. My second time bringing a new missionary back to this area.
     Now prior to meeting Elder Parkinson on Tuesday I was in a trio of missionaries with Elder Cuno and Elder Caceras and I got to experience the miracle with G__ that I mentioned last week.  She’s doing absolutely great.  She has to be one of the most prepared investigators in history. This faithful sister has read the Book of Mormon cover to cover and now is finishing 3 Nephi for the 2nd time and returned missionaries from Latin America will know that’s quite unusual.  She also is already living the law of tithing. Her son is also a return missionary.  In fact, a lot of members thought she was already a member, but they are very happy that she’ll be taking that step of baptism this next Saturday, the 19th of September.  So we have the privilege to teach her this next week in preparation for her baptism, yet another miracle the Lord’s allowed us to take part in. Pray for her as I’m sure we’ll pass through some trials this week, since there’s always opposition, always.
      We teach so many lessons each week which makes it hard to decide what to mention in these letters, however one comes to mind.  We had a zone conference this past week which helped us understand how we really need to help people understand who EXACTLY is God, our Heavenly Father, so they’ll be more apt to move closer to Him. It really impacted me when I heard that, since usually I just say God is our loving Heavenly Father and leave it at that.  So when we met with A__ this past week and he indicated he’d like to come unto God some more a very cool lesson followed. We were going to talk about the law of Chastity but felt the impression to really talk about fervent, daily prayer along with diligent scripture study as ways to really come to know our Heavenly Father. The testimonies my companion shared along with Carlos (the 1st counselor of the Stake Presidency) were especially moving. The Lord undoubtedly left a large part of his Spirit that night and I felt that A__better understood who his eternal father was. Sometimes returning to the basics makes all the difference as we have the tendency to over complicate things, pressing forward in the gospel really isn’t all that complicated. The well-versed “primary answers” really are the core fundamentals that make it all possible, and I suppose that we all know that , but do we really live them fully?
     This week has gone flying by and I wish you all the very best. Make the most of every moment that comes your way. Thank you all for your support.


September 7, 2015 What a Wonderful 3 Months

    Another 6 weeks have come and gone in the blink of an eye. It feels like time is accelerating faster and faster every month that I’m here in the mission. As you want it to go by even slower because you truly love it more and more, the time just speeds up. The end of this transfer marks the end of my time as Elder Caceres’ trainer and marks 15 months as a full time missionary. It’s been such a privilege to see the blessings the Lord has poured out upon us in these past 3 months, in that he has blessed us with his Spirit and with chosen children of His to help come unto Christ.  There’s a lot of special blessings that the Lord provides during a new missionary’s training that I didn’t fully realize while I was trained, but now that I do realize as I have trained what a miracle it is that young mean and young women come from widely different backgrounds and are able to serve as literal representatives of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He puts a lot of trust in us and pours his spirit to make it all possible. Well, with respect to transfers I don’t know yet what’s going to happen as I’m starting this letter, but I’ll let you all know before I close.
     Last P-day was pretty low-key since I decided to simply clean our apartment and then a hour or 2 of rest. It was exactly what I needed to recharge. I might be happy almost always during this time as a missionary, but I also tire often. My district of missionaries also prepared an appreciation card which meant a lot to me, I have the world’s best district. We also had a great lesson with E__and her son A__.  She has changed so very much since her baptism; she is a lot calmer and is a lot happier. She’s been diligently praying, reading her scriptures, and attending church. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it really does mean a lot that she’s diligently applying these small, simple patterns that make all the difference. Alma counseled his son that “it is by the small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”
     Jose and Rosa are also doing great.  Yesterday he received the Priesthood which was very special, and I got the opportunity to participate in his ordination.  Jose has changed so much from the man he used to be, he is almost unrecognizable.  Happiness just sort of radiates from him now and it is plain to see how the Spirit is so present in his heart leading it to change mightily. Perhaps the majority of people can’t change themselves, but the Spirit certainly can if they allow him to. It’s hard to explain the immense joy we feel as missionaries when we see this great change in others causing them to have “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” There really aren’t words to illustrate just how it feels witnessing such great changes in the lives of P__ and Y__, E__, and J__ and R__ has been truly gratifying.
     L___ and M__  are also doing great and attended church this past Sunday. They have been absolutely loving church and their kids beg them to go. They are progressing a lot and soon they could well be another family to add to our ever growing ward family. Keep them in your prayers, that God will keep preparing them.
     Also, a miracle occurred this past Sunday. Because of transfers we were in a trio with one of the elders from my district. We visited a long investigator named G___ whose son is a returned missionary. She’s read the Book of Mormon cover to cover and will son finish it for the 2nd time. She is super awesome, but never thought she could be baptized because of several personal problems. However, in a Spirit filled lesson she was able to figure out that she indeed is ready and accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 19th of September!! It was a great tender mercy. The Lord just keeps working miracle after miracle here.
     I just got a call from the new assistant Elder Marshall who used to live here with us- that I will be……….ending my transfer with Elder Caceras and I will be a …………….trainer again. I will be staying here in Casa Grande and I will be training again. It also appears that each area in my district will be training. The district is completely full of trainers and new missionaries. In fact, every single area in our zone will be training except one area! I’ve never hear of that ever happening. It should be very interesting.
     Well, have a great week and watch the blog for pictures!

August 31, 2015 Baptisms in Casa Grande

     Here I find myself again writing this letter again and each week I try to come up with a new way to start off, or at least a different way to do so, but I wasn’t sure what to say this week so I wrote this sentence instead.  Something that’s come clearer week after week is just how much the Lord’s hands has been present here in Casa Grande in these past few months.  Like I wrote last week, maybe it hasn’t always been that clear in the moment, but I’ve come to see that “the Lord (has) poured out his spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds (and hearts) of the children of men…to receive the word.” (Alma 16:16) Coming to know prepared, chosen vessels like P__ and Y__, like E__ and A__, and many others, it’s been so plainly evident how the Holy Spirit prepares the way for a specific time and place and that nothing occurs for coincidence in the mission. Every step, every decision weighs into an ever larger infinite plan that I’m nowhere near to comprehending, but I am sure that people are truly placed in our path each and every day at precisely the right time and place many times resulting from sincere, humble prayer.
     Last Sunday, Elder Marshall who was my zone leader and roommate left to be trained as a new assistant leaving Elder Limaico (the other zone leader) with us. This ended up meaning that I was sort of the acting zone leader/district leader/trainer. It also meant I had to help him coordinate our zone P-day.  So naturally I ordered 6 pizzas and arranged for us to go do some activities like capture the flag in a field near our church.  It all worked out well though one of the elders fell and scraped his knee so I had to take him to my apartment in order to clean him up, so I missed the majority of the activities but it all went great.
     One family I haven’t mentioned before is the T___ family. The mother, B__, was more or less active when I got here and S___ her husband was completely inactive. They had a pretty rocky marriage and were far from happiness, at the point of choosing to separate. However, we have been working with them with the ward’s help in these past few months and complete change has occurred. They now hold daily prayer and scripture study, weekly family home evening, and actively participate in church. There is a completely different Spirit about their home now as they’ve chosen to truly live the gospel with pure intent.  They are even talking about getting sealed in the temple instead of separated. It’s been very rewarding to see the spirit of the Lord bless their lives so much since they chose to really live the gospel of Jesus Christ which gospel truly has the sure power to bless and bring together any family if they live it with all their heart.
     The Y___ family has such desires to bring their family together more through the gospel. Though helping J__ and R__ do so hasn’t been easy. Jose listened to the missionaries on and off for years and would tell his daughter to call him when they left.  Then he went to the Temple open house and everything changed. He felt something and was hungry for something better. He called us to visit him instead of running away in his mototaxi.  Since then the faith he has shown with Rosa has been extraordinary.  Such faith was necessary in the facing of a lot of opposition to the marriage and the baptism. I could easily make a sizeable list of obstacles they’ve/we’ve faced.  However, despite all that has happened, this past Saturday brought with it the memorable image of these 7 wonderful people dressed in white. The service was really touching since the members went out of their way to make it special.  We celebrated their marriage, their baptism, and Rosa’s birthday (which was the 30th ) at the same time! Now they’ve set their eyes firmly on the temple, and I pray with all my heart that they make it there in 1 year’s time. How merciful and wondrous is the Lord in allowing us to be instruments in bringing 4 families together through the gospel these past few months here in Casa Grande. What a tender mercy it’s been to see how God prepared “the hearts of the T__ family, the D__ Family, The A___ family and the Y___ family to receive His word.  
     Previously, I’ve mentioned L__ and his family who are super prepared and love the Restored Gospel and they have shown a strong desire to change for the better. They love the Book of Mormon and aren’t even scared of the word baptism. However, for the past 3 weeks, they’ve always said that they would go to church but then they would come up with a fairly insignificant excuse not to go. So when we knocked on their door this past Sunday, it was the same story, and L___ said that his wife was sort of sick and wouldn’t be able to go. Upon hearing this my heart sank and we started to walk to church, when my companion said, “shouldn’t we have offered a blessing?” I knew they probably didn’t know what that was, but I felt that my companion was right so we turned around and walked back. We knocked again offering a blessing and L___ said he would ask his wife. He reemerged saying they’d go to church. It was a surprise, but they later came to church and had a wonderful experience, the ward members enveloped them and made them feel comfortable. They later explained that they were scared of going to church for the 1st time, but now they wanted to go each Sunday! All because the Lord prompted us to go back and offer a blessing.  Well, that will wrap up this account  of my past week. I hope my English still makes sense, because I think in Spanish and then translate it.  I hope you all have a great week.


August 17, 2015 Wonderful Week in Casa Grande

     Hard to think we’re in the middle of August again which I guess means school should be starting up again in the states. It’s amazing how as I continue in my mission that time just seems to become more and more disconnected. As one loses himself in the work the days blow by and leave one missionary thinking “it’s already time to head back to the apartment,” “this month has already come to an end?” Definitely different than my time at BYU where I remember watching the clock tick waiting for a general education lecture to end (usually not my favorite classes).  The time goes by surprisingly quick and it’s hard to think that one can only live this for 2 years. We only get 2 years in this life and the eternities to have the chance to really give it all to the Lord as a messenger of Jesus Christ.  We won’t get another chance to do it and so it’s so very important to live and magnify every moment of it.  That’s what I try to do, it’s so easy to get caught up in the past or the future, but if we’ll just live and enjoy the present life becomes so much more fulfilling.
     As district leader I have to organize district P-days once in a while.  So for this past one I came up with a plan that ended up being a lot of fun. We eat pizza together as a district and then we took a hired van to El Brujo.  It’s an old temple that dates back a long way and has a lot of history.  More of it was open since I went in January. It was just great to come closer as a district and have fun, especially when we took photos at the end (some are attached).  I also get to conduct companion exchanges once in a while and this past week I headed to Ascope/Roma (about a half hour east) with Elder Cino to finally see what it is like there. Since I’m training I haven’t been able to leave my area for exchanges because Elder Caceres is a new missionary. However, I headed to Ascope and left him to lead the area for his time.  I later found out that he did great and it showed just how much he’s learned.  Ascope reminded me a lot  of San Jacinto and I got to meet some great people including a mother named Miragros who we taught for the 1st time. It was so easy to feel the Spirit that was present when we testified how the gospel of Jesus Christ, in it’s fullness, brings families together and brings peace in this life and oy in the one to come. She could feel something different and that’s really the uniqueness of our message being that the Spirit is there to confirm the truth of what we teach.
     Here in Casa Grande, A__ continues to progress.  I recently learned that he worked as an engineer for a while so that engineering background is something we have in common.  He really has an ability to understand and comprehend gospel principles and has really embraced what we’ve shared with him. He attended church last Sunday and felt great, so we took him again this past Sunday and he again left content as could be.  I just pray that he’s able to recognize an answer with respect to the Book of Mormon.  But he’s doing his part and I have no doubt that Moroni’s promise applies to all who do it with real intent.
     We also have seen miracles with J__ and R___. After passing through a couple bumps on the way, they committed to being married on the 20th and completed all the necessary paperwork in 2 days (right before the deadline).  It’s the first time that I’ve actually been able to help someone get married in preparation for baptism.  I have taught many people who needed to get married, but I’ve never been able to get to this point. So this coming Thursday should be very special. However, we haven’t been able to commit them to a specific baptismal date because of J__'s work so keep them in your prayers.
     P and Y’s family are also doing great. P__ had to go up North to Piura which appeared to be a permanent work change, however the family persevered with faith and P__’s work changed their mind and sent him back here. They are super active in the ward doing their visits, going to church, holding family home evenings weekly, and holding daily scripture study. They even have made it a point to magnify their calling as door greeters, arriving 15 minutes early each Sunday (which never happens in Peru). When P__ was in Piura he even said that he would make the overnight trip back every Saturday in order to fulfill his calling. Their faith reminds me of Alma’s converts in Mosiah 24 that endured their challenges with patience and faith, which led to being comforted and eventually freed. There’s a great joy seeing the mighty change of heart that the spirit has caused in 2 people two never wanted to be baptized and thought the Mormons worshipped Joseph Smith. The Spirit is so clearly present in their home now and it’s helped me to further realized that any family that truly lives the gospel with all their hear will come closer together in a peace that only the gospel brings.

August 10, 2015 A Baptism in Casa Grande

“And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfill and to do the work of the covenants of the Father… by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord.” (Moroni 7:31). The apostolic calling to expound and exhort the very gospel of Jesus Christ is one that leads to much reflection. To think that an apostle of the Lord received the clear revelation to call a young man to Trujillo, to hold the very apostolic authority to be an emissary of the Lord, is a wonder indeed. The calling to call/invite others unto the gospel is a fulfilling one as we work hard to find the “chosen vessels of the Lord” or rather the prepared children of God who are ready to make covenants with the Father. Not an easy task but the tools like sincere prayer, consistent church attendance, the guiding, all knowing influence of the Spirit is there to reach the hearts of those we teach and ourselves and making our calling far from impossible. That divine presence has been ever so present this past week as Elder Caceres and I have worked here in Casa Grande and yet again working the miracles small and large that we see every day as missionaries.

      Last P-day was pretty low-key as we just spent our morning cleaning and eating pizza. So I’ll write about how some of our investigators are doing. J___, who I mentioned last week, is doing great. Our bishop (who is super dedicated and awesome) decided to start doing things with J___ like help him make a fishing net and go fishing with him at the beach. These simple acts of fellowshipping have made all the difference. J___ has been more and more eager to learn more and even accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 5th of September! He has always “run away” from the missionaries in the past with such invitations so when he accepted this time, his wife E___  looked profoundly dumbfounded. We also have continued to work with a younger adult, A___ , who is very smart and all ready to learn more. We’ve been teaching him for about 3 weeks now and he always surprises us just how prepared he appears to be when we teach him. He is hungry to follow Christ and do whatever is necessary to do so. He also accepted the invitation for the 5th.

     J___ and R___ have also gone through quite a few challenges as they tried to push forward and they are trying to get married so that they can follow Christ. They encountered strong opposition from family and have been very challenged financially. However, through it all they’ve held fast to daily scripture study and prayer and having a firm goals for their future. As such they are now rushing to get all their documents in order to get married on the 20th in a mass wedding the mission is preparing. Pray for them as they need all their documents by tomorrow. It will be a miracle, but I suppose we see those every day. Once we get through this they’ll be all dressed in white in the church together ready to follow in Christ’s footsteps together.

     Now the largest miracle of all undoubtedly pertains to E___. As I’ve shared before, she is a single mother of 13 year old Aaron (who was baptized 2 years ago). She’s listened to the missionaries off and on for 13 years, but like I said before she accepted the invitation to be baptized. Since then we’ve worked hard to help her prepare and it’s not been easy. She’s had many challenges and discouragements. Last Sunday, August 2nd, she told us that she wasn’t ready and that she couldn’t get baptized. She explained how her mother wasn’t ready so she couldn’t get baptized. She explained how her mother attended another church for 5 years before getting baptized. She thought that she had to be almost perfect before taking that step. However, we explained that baptism is but a gate and not the end. Then our ex-pensionista testified about the importance to act, how her husband had known all was true and waited, but his time ran out. She once again accepted the invitation and we’ve worked with her this past week to help her prepare herself. Finally, this past Saturday came and it was time. The ward put together a great program and quite a few attended. Then I was the person who stepped into the baptismal font with her. She gave a great testimony afterward sharing just how much she’s changed. Jose’ was also in attendance and he said he would be next.

     Well, it’s been a great week here and I wish you all an excellent one this coming week. So it is goodbye for now from Casa Grande, Peru!


August 3, 2015 Attending the Trujillo Temple for the First Time

     It feels strange to write this again as I was writing just a few days ago. Since I last wrote, I was able to attend the Trujillo Temple, teach some lessons, and enjoy Sunday. So this letter might be a little short, but I'll probably focus most on the temple.
     We loaded onto one of the buses headed from Casa Grande to Trujillo together as a zone on Friday morning. Then we got off in front of the temple, so close to the house of the Lord. Walking onto the grounds was different since it was the first time I'd been there since the Open House, so the giant tents and countless number of people weren't present - certainly a lot more peaceful. Then we headed in for a session as a zone with President and Sister Marler which made for a special experience. The pure calm feeling of the Lord's Spirit was so ever present there in the house of the Lord. It led me to the calm assurance that what I'm doing is ordained by God. I'm called of God to represent Him in bringing and declaring the truth to those whom he as prepared. I didn't really want to leave the temple, but eventually the time came to an end. It would be so amazing to go more often, like once or twice a week, but as missionaries we only get to go once every three months. It was a memorable experience that I will be very slow to forget. Thus it is when we enter the house of the Lord and how great would it be to choose to do so often.
     I will make mention of a miracle like change that we've seen in the lives of another family. Avid readers of my weekly accounts (if any exist) will remember that about 2 months ago we made donuts in the house of a less active, partial member family. We've worked with the inactive mother and daughter who are great. They'll read their scriptures and express huge words of excitement to go to church, but despite our best efforts they have never went. However, fairly recently we came in contact with the non-member father. He listened to the missionaries in the past, but never progressed. We showed the video of the Restoration on Saturday which he really got into. Then we explained how the Book of Mormon was the evidence of what we taught, he was very prompt to ask us, really ask us for a copy. Then on Sunday the miracle came, the whole family came to church and liked it. Johnny (the father) was visibly happy and is starting to break off his shell and is much more relaxed around us. We'll see where it all goes, but it has been awesome to see how the Restoration has a special ability to touch hearts.
     Well like I said, this will be kind of a short letter. I wish you all an excellent week! I also put out a special shout out to the Pulsipher family who will be having their family reunion this coming week. I love you all and send my love and appreciation from Peru.

July 31, 2015 A Week of Miracles

     Well, I’m writing this letter a little later than usual as our P-day was switched up. We got to attend the temple every 3 months, as zones of missionaries and today (Friday, July 31) will be my first time attending the Trujillo temple! It should be a very memorable experience to be in the Lord’s house right here in Trujillo, entering as a full-time missionary. Now because we will be attending the temple today (Friday) our P-day was changed to today. This last Sunday marked the end of transfer cycle and I predictably stayed here with my companion since we’re in the middle of training. So this was the first transfer that didn’t involve a change of companion or area that I had since my time in San Jacinto with my second companion. Things are starting to settle down after 10 companions, 4 areas, and a little time of medical leave. This past week and a half has been awesome, absolutely full of miracles showing how mercifully the Lord blesses us while we work in his vineyard. In the words of Elder Holland, “it is a marvelous work and a wonder” that the Lord blesses us missionaries as much as he does.”
     Last P-day, we headed up a little bit north of Casa Grande to Puerto Chicuma, a really cool beach. It was a multi-zone P-day in which my zone and the Guadalope zone were in attendance with President Marler and his family. It was a lot of fun to play softball again and then to have an “unjudged sand castle contest.” I might have been a little red afterward, but it was good fun and Casa Grande is the lucky zone that’s gotten to go twice within 2 months to the beach.
     E___ is continuing to head toward her baptism on the 8th. Last week after a lesson that seemed a little off, she opened up with us to let us know that she had some doubts about her decision.  It turned out that she had spoken to her mother who is an active member of another faith. Her mother made her doubt her ability to follow through with things. She was unsure if she really had a testimony and if she’d follows through. There are a lot of things we could’ve said, but we simply turned toward the Book of Mormon indicating she would be sure if she persisted reading and praying. It was a simple invitation which we know held God-promised truth, but we still worried for her. Then the miracle came. She told us a few days later in church that she’d had a dream and she knew the Book of Mormon was true! She was set on following through with the 8th of August.
     This past Sunday was also full of miracles. We sat in the Sacrament room as we always do, but this time Ermila and her investigating son, J___ and his wife R___, a young couple (C__ and C___), and several other investigators and less actives came. It was a huge miracle. Our Gospel Principles class almost didn’t have enough seats. We worked hard in these past few weeks and it’s amazing to see the recompense, especially to see how the Lord has blessed us to work with families undoubtedly due to the presence of a temple here. Many of these people have been impacted in some way by the temple and it is clear to see that the Lord is preparing more of his children to make their way to his house right here in Trujillo.
     Well, I’ll have to cut this short as I haven’t had very much free time to write this week. However, we have seen many miracles as the Spirit has worked in the lives of these we teach. We might pass through difficulties and challenges, but as we preserver with faith the blessings come. So many experiences occur each and every day in the mission which testify and witness that the work is true, that Christ does send his work through revelation. We had several other things happen like meeting in Trujilllo for trainers and trainees, we said goodbye to Elder Cowley (our zone leader) and some interesting district meetings.  Above everything else, know that I’m doing great and that today we’re going to the house of the Lord, the Trujillo Temple! It should be an excellent day. Have a great week and I’ll write again on Mondays.