Wednesday, October 26, 2011

To Be a Missionary

Hey everyone!
I have little time, so I'll start with the part I'm most excited about. We got to go prosylite for 5 hours on Saturday in the streets of Lima! So we did real missionary work! It was pretty much the most fantastic thing ever. I really love how wonderful the people are down here. We got into three houses and taught a total of six people. And gave short lessons to many more. So here are the stories of my first ever missionary experience!
So we got sent out (two North American missionaries who don't speak spanish with a teacher here).
We started knocking on doors and I was really confused, because I wasn't sure what was a house and what wasn't. The houses are just lined up, no space between, all the way down the street, so it's like a super dirty and broken up alley way. So at first, it seemed kinda sketchy, since no one was out. But there were houses that didn't have roofs and there were houses that had totally broken windows and doors, and it was the worst living conditions I'd ever seen. By a long shot. Across the river at the end of our road were houses that were half there and covered in trash. They looked abandoned, but no, people lived there and had their laundry strung up. It was super crazy. But despite having little, the people were all very loving and polite.
The first person we taught was an older woman who had an amazing amount of faith!! She has been a strong beliver in God and has had two amazing miracles in her life. the first was when her son fell out of a two story window as a baby, but survived with absolutely no damage to himself. She ran down the stairs and he was completely fine. The second was when her father was hit in the head (I wasn't able to understand how that happened, but it sounded really bad) and he had died from the hit, but immediately after, she prayed to God that he would bring her father back, and he did. So it's amazing to hear the amount of faith she had and the miracles that come through it. She was amazing receptive to the Spirit and by the end of the lesson, told us that she knew that our words about the restoration are true, and that the book of mormon was the word of God. I was stunned. She said that after 15 minutes. So we've sent the missionaries back to her to teach her the things she needs to know, but she knew just after we taught her how to pray and had her pray. It was so amazing to see the Spirit work through her. Oh, and after this lesson, the teacher told me that my Spanish was amazingly better than when I was at the MTC. =)
The second house we went to had some very strong Catholics who were being pretty difficult. They weren't being very receptive, so for the sake of time, I'll skip them.
The second lesson was to a man who started with a question that the Priests who taught him previously didn't answer well enough for him. "Why do bad things happen to good people?" My companion taught this lesson amazingly. He pulled out scriptures of how we are tested and grow and learn, and how God trusts us and knows we can make it through it. And then the second thing was how a priest told him that he would remember his sins perfectly, as would God, when he died, and he was terrified of that. My companion and I could tell he was weiged down by something from the start, and now we knew he was. So we taught him about repentance and the atonement of Christ and how we can be forgiven of our sins. We taught about hope and happiness and that our Heavely Father loves us. He took the lesson amazingly well and asked us to come back. So I was so happy about that.
Anyway, I just ran out of time.
Hope everyone is doing great!
Elder Seth

Friday, October 21, 2011

21-10-11 =)

So I've been here in Peru for about a week now! Our P-Day got moved back to Friday, so sorry if you were expecting this on Wednesday. We had some administration guy or something come down and they didn't want us to have a P-Day while he was here for some reason. I guess he was teaching people or something, I don't really know. All I know is that it feels like it's been forever since I've had a P-Day. Though I have to say that I really love it here.
The food is an adventure every day. You have to remember that, if it looks familiar, it's probably not. Unless it's hot chocolate. But basically it's all very deffierent. Everything has been pretty good, well... most of it, but we had "hot dogs" of a sort a couple days back that pretty much killed me. I woke up at 3:00 AM to get it out of my stomach. It was pretty depressing. We all felt like it was familiar, but that was just a joke. I haven't had a problem with anything else, though.
So it was two days ago that I first felt the effects of not having any candy or snacks or anything. I honestly miss having those to help keep me awake during class and study time. And also to tie me over for those days I just get hungry. It's mildly depressing at times, really, but oh well. I only have to bear through it for a few more weeks, then I'll be sent out into the real world... Which is a really scary thought. If there's one thing I've realized, it's that I don't know Spanish... But I'll be given a Latino Companion in a few days and switch districts and I'll have to speak Spanish a lot more. So hopefully a few weeks of that will give me the practice necessary to at least understand a little bit more. I just figure I'll be pretty far behind no matter how far I get in these few week (just like every other foreign speaking missionary).
But, we actually leave tomorrow and do 5 hours of tracting and going and teaching previously contacted investigators and such. I guess they drop us off with a teacher or member who's fluent and we go and teach! So it'll be a major adventure. my first time ever prosyliting¿. I'm pretty much pumped about that. I also get to go to the Temple in a bit, so I get to hear everything in Spanish, which should be really interesting. I'm not gonna have much of a clue about what's going on, but it'll be fun.
So I really don't think I'm gonna have much time to respond to everyone, so I'm really sorry. We still only have 30 mins down here, so I just hope that I'll get more in the field. Everyone who actually cares might just have to hang on until then. =P
Hope all is well!
Elder Seth

A follow up note to me:

Hey Dad!
My first note is gonna be how incredibly weird it is to have this weather. I like it a lot, it's awesome (especially since it's not too hot) but one thing that really throws me are the days where you never see the sun. There are days that have fog, or clouds, or something of that sort, but you can't see the mountains or the sun. I don't mean you can't see it directly, I mean that you can't even tell where it is when you study the clouds! It makes the day less exciting, because I love the sun, but it's still kinda cool. There are also some really amazing sunsets here! It's super cool! The colors are pretty fantastic.
Oh, and I wish that I could record the bird noises from around here! There are TONS of birds and the constant noises that come from them are super exciting. It's like having tons of instruments around you just fiddeling with their instruments. It's fun to just listen every once in a while.
Oh, and I guess the majority of the Latino missionaries here are converts of about 2 years! Tons of them feel like we're the mature seasoned members and often look to us to see how it's done. Which is a bad idea, because we're 19 year old US kids. We're mildly... really loud and not perfect at all. Anyway, I just thought that was really crazy. i've never had pressure to represent my country, either, so that's pretty interesting too. =)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'm in Peru!

Dad's commentary: Seth called Tuesday night to let us know he would be leaving at 5am on Wednesday. It was good to hear from him, even if it was only for about 5 or 10 minutes. We heard a, "please deposit 25 cents to continue talking". We asked if he had any more quarters, and he didn't :). Oh well, it was nice talking to him even if it was just a short time.

Hey, everyone!

So pretty much this is the most difficult keyboard to use ever. Not really, but I can't hit shift and I have no idea where the punctuation marks are. Other than that, though, it's fine. All the letters are in the same spot.

Well, I got my flight plans on Tuesday at about 2:30 and they told me that I'm leaving at 5:00 AM the next day! So I had less than a 24 hours' notice before I headed out of the country for the very first time... It was super hectic getting everything together, but I mannaged, thankfully. We left on the bus at 5:00 and drove to the SLC Airport. We made tons of jokes about how the outside world actually wasn't a painting and how we were amazed that there was life outside of the MTC. We flew from Salt Lake to Georgia, then from Georgia all the way down to Lima. The flights took all day. It was midnight when we got to Lima and 1:00 AM when we got to the Lima MTC.

     It was pretty crazy getting through the airport and customs and everything, but it all worked out eventually. We got to explain how our first names weren't Elder to a Peruvian who was in line. It was kinda fun to see them bear through our Spanish, but they figured it out. As soon as we got through customs we walked into a MASSIVE group of people holding signs with peoples' names and other things. It was pretty much a super loud moment of my life, but the woman who came to get the missionaries jummped out of the massive funnel of people and was just calling "Elders!" so we all figured out where to go.

     We all loaded onto a bus, and drove through the city. Basically it freaked me out as soon as 10 minutes passed, because we drove through the worst ghetto I've seen in my life, by a long shot. I could hardly see a wall because of the vast amount of graffiti. And there were groups of people wallking who looked pretty sketchey. One of the guides said that this was the most dangerous part of Peru and that we should be super glad that we aren't serving there. He told us that gangs walked around shirtless and had machetties strapped to their chests. But then he said that no one dares to hurt missionaries, so that was really good to hear. They all realize that missionaries are good people there to help them. So people are still called to serve there because no one has ever been hurt. Robbed, occasionally, but never hurt. I was just super glad that we drove around the outskirts and not into it. We were raised up and had a wall between us and the bad part of town. I appreciated that.

     So I asked about Trujillo, and he told me that it was one of the most peacefull places in Peru, so I really don't need to worry about much. He said it's super pretty up there and that he likes it a lot. So that's really cool to hear about.

     Anyway, we kept on driving and it got better. Less grafitti, but still super run down. Then we saw the spotless Temple, which was AMAZING compared to the surroundings. It stood out SO beautifully next to the rest of the dirty city. Then next to the Temple was a really pretty swan park for no apparent reason. But it was cool. Then it was the Lima MTC. So that was all really exciting.

     So I got off the bus, and they gave me a piece of damp paper that told me where my damp bed is with damp sheets. I had to walk up stairs ... that were damp. Yay humidity! So pretty much I'll have to get used to that, because I've never really lived anywhere humid. But I'm surrounded by odd palm trees, which is pretty nifty, and there are constant strange noises from animals I've never heard before.
Couple last notes, Gym=Soccer and we can't shake hands or give hugs for health reasons, and I'm gonna love it here! My compainion is Elder Nelson, also American. He came with us. I don't know him yet, but he seems pretty cool. The Lima MTC is WAY nicer then the Provo MTC as well. Especially Food-wise. I have no idea what I've eaten the past two meals, but they were super good.

     I hope all is going really well for everyone back home! I'm super excited to be here and I'm doing well!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Month Out!

Well, it's going to be 4 weeks out in my mission as of tomorrow! I've been out here a month now... It's really crazy to think that I'm 1/24th done! Well, not really when I put it that way, but it's pretty crazy to think about how time just flies by. I'm almost half way done with my time at the MTC. And a week overdue with my time in the Provo MTC. I'm told that the end of this week is a pretty good bet for when I get my Visa. We'll see, though. There are a lot of Visas sitting in the Peruvian consulate that are all passed, and just need to get up to Denver, then from Denver to here. They travel office said that they ship them overnight from Denver, so it's really all just up to the Peruvian Consulate. And they seem to like to take their time.
     My life here at the MTC pretty much keeps going the same way. Except we get to move rooms because they're gutting our building and sending us to another one. So we get to have 6 missionaries to a room! Yay! So we get to dismantle our beds and put them in the center of the room basically. And then live out of our suitcases. I'm not entirely excited about that one, not gonna lie. But it'll be fine. Especially if Elder Hill and I leave soon.
     There was one really cool event that happened this week. We do a thing called TRC, which is when we teach volunteers (all members) from around Provo. They all come and we teach them in Spanish. A lot of the volunteers are returned missionaries from Spanish speaking countries and natives, so they're all fluent. TRC is pretty much my favorite thing we do here, though, because we get to teach real people. Anyway, we were teaching a native Chilean woman and her daughter about how to recieve revelation from prayer. This lesson was the first time we felt that we were really able to teach and have a spirit in the room. Of course, a lot of it was from the experiences she shared herself, but it also came from our own experiences and preparation for the lesson. But by the end of the lesson, she had tears in her eyes and told us that she can feel the spirit really strongly from us. I guess that made me really happy and reminded Elder Hill and I why we're here.
     I hope everyone is doing great! I'm really happy to be out here serving the Lord. Thanks for all of your support and emails. =)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mission Email 10/4

     Once again, I get to race to type these emails. I've really be enjoying myself here at the MTC. It's tons of fun and really helpful, but I'll take going down to the Lima MTC any day now. Nothing has come through about my Visa. In fact, I heard that since Peru has changed presidents, Visas have been coming weeks late for almost everyone. I guess the president is kinda anit-US. I sent mine in earlier than most people, though, so I might actually get mine soon. But I really don't know. My roommates got their Visas to Mexico and left pretty much exactly 24 hours later. So once you get your Visa, they really just ship you off. So I'll let you guys know when I get it! I should be able to call home before I leave as well. But I'm not entirely sure.
     I've spent most of mine time these days preparing to teach our investigators. Though they're only actors, the situations were from real people and real experiences. Both are personalities that could very possibly show up on my misison. One is taking the lessons just because his wife wants to be baptized (and he's kinda just angry at God for his trials) and the other is a 25-year-old who is lazy about keeping his commitments. So both have their own problems and really teach us to teach people, not lessons (one of the fundamentals of teaching). Very much of what I've been doing is exactly the same. We've setteled down into a regular weekly routine and just kinda repeat life each week. It's not always super exciting, but it's very helpful.  The only real break I get from all the missionary work is gym time. I've been pretty obsessed with 4-Square, actually. It's definitely the last time I'll ever get to play it seriously and it's so ridiculous. I've gotten really into and even find myself diving to save the ball and get a good return. I'm actually getting some solid skills, but I feel a bit silly getting so into it. It's totally fun, though.
     It's pretty crazy that we got an organ. Seems like such a weird thing. In fact, I was wondering how people got into that. I kinda figured no one had an organ just sitting in their house. Guess that proved me wrong. Anyway, I'm working diligently and making it through each day. General Conference was kinda like Cristmas Vacation for missionaries here! No classes both days and we got to have a super spiritual experience. I've never got so much out of conference. It was really amazing.
     I hope all is going well at home! Thanks for all of the emails! Hopefully I'll be able to say more once I get into the field and have more than 30 minutes to email...
Elder Seth