Monday, January 30, 2012

One more week of training!

Well, we had a baptism this week. Fiorela was baptized and all went quite well. I wish baptisms could be a little bit more calm and spiritual for missionaries. It's so awesome that she finally made it to baptism, but we have to prepare everything and we're running around the whole day trying to get everything together. There're so many little details to take care of. But it's still a wonderful experience all the same. The only thing we've got to do now is hang on to her. Because we're having retention problems with the new converts in Huanchaco, and we've got to change that. The ward has now taken action with us to help keep them and to bring them back, so hopefully that'll be what changes it.

Spanish is still coming along well, allbeit a lot slower. I'm mostly learning how to speak normally more than learning new words and phrases. I'm still learning them, but my progress seems to be more in conversations and in teaching clearly. But I'm going out of my way to talk with people and try to keep up every day conversation, because that's one of the hardest things to do for me. But I'm getting there little by little.

As for my work the past week, our zone helped build another house. It's really amazing how simple it is to build a house when you don't have to do anything with plumbing or wires or anything. We were in the most poor part of Trujillo where people build their own houses for about $300. And some for even less. They just put the bricks together and call it a home. Still very humbling to me.

Well, I forgot to tell a funny story from when I was with the other North American missionary, Elder Flansburg last week (the one who has some troubles with Spanish). We were finishing up dinner, when Elder Flansburg wanted to let my Penchanista know that the food is good. So he told her, "Hermana, está ricasa!" Which means, "Sister [Angela], the food is really rich!" Which is all fine and dandy, but the funny thing is that he didn't address the sentance to the food. If you listened to the sentence as referring to her (because "ésta" can refer to "you" or "it"), it means, "Sister [Angela], you're really hot!"
So that turned out very, very funny. For us. Not so much for him. We still can't stop laughing. Oh, the dangers of learning a new language...

I only have one more week of training left! Weird thought. It'll be 5 months soon...
Hope all is going well back home! Let me know what's going on.
Elder Seth

Monday, January 23, 2012

¡Exito! ("success", not "exit")

So we're having another baptizm on the 28th. Our investigator, Fiorela, is a youth that really feels like the church is true, and this is a path that she should take. She's a member refrence and was welcomed in by the youth of the ward quite well. So I'm really hoping she'll be able to get to church every week. I feel like she'll do it. An investigator with a conversion, rather than obligation.

We also have the baptizm of David lined up for the 3rd of Febuary. He's learning fast and progressing. He recieved a strong witness that the Book of Mormon is true and that he should be baptized. He asked four times the first night to get his witness, and he's still praying to accept it more and more. He's been changing his life to follow Christ, and that's just a wonderful thing to see.

I'm still learning Spanish quickly and am trying to keep up on studying. One of the assistants told me about how a lot of missionaries plateau at 8 months, and I certainly don't want to do that. I intend to use my Spanish through my whole life, so I'll keep up the learning each day.

So it's really interresting to see how people react to our teachings. One thing that always impresses me is that, no mater how well they recieve the message of the Restauration (I don't know how to spell it in English..), they always adapt our maner of prayer. They always accept it and use it. That's always a testimony of how we really do have the truth. I'm really glad to see that people can feel that too. Even if it's in just one aspect of our teachings.

Well, as for the adventures this week, our bathroom floor is crawling with worms. And not the friendly earthworm kind of worm. The parasite kind of worm. They're SO NASTY! Our toilet has a leak, so there's always a puddle of water in our bathroom, and we now know that worms were living in the pipes, because they decided to come out. But they can apparently survive from all the crap that's in the water. Just another downside of not having clean water.

Unfortunately, I really don't have too many new adventures. But I was with another new North American Elder for a day this week. He has one more exchange than me (6 weeks more), but he struggles with Spanish, so I lead all the lessons and taught almost every principle. I also found all the houses and made every descision because it was my area. It was pretty crazy to have been able to do that. Just another blessing from the Lord.

I hope all is well back in the good ol' USA. Where worms don't live in the pipes of my toilet...
Elder Seth

------------- To Dad ---------
OH MY GOSH! I WANT WEATHER! It's only meltingly hot EVERY DAY. But the people are still wonderful, and the work is great.
And I have the funniest tan.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Only 3 weeks left of training..?

Another solid week of missionary work. The weeks are already playing all sorts of games with me. I'm pretty sure this week felt like an eternity, but now I look back and I feel like it flew by. But I'm getting adjusted to the life and more to the language. I don't feel so helpless and I feel like I can add to the lessons and contribute. I'm able to understand the problems and concerns of investigators then respond in time. And I feel comfortable thinking in Spanish most of the time, as well. I'm not entirely sure why the Lord has helped me so much with the language, but I'm certainly thankful for it. I've been here for 4 months now, and I have no idea how I'm speaking and understanding another language. It's pretty miraculous, when you think about it.

So some odd stories of things I've never seen before in my life:

There was a restaurant that serves people and their dogs. The dogs sit outside in the street (like they would at any normal restaurant), but the waiters bring dogfood in one of those styrefoam leatovers box to them. So that was pretty entertaining to see.

I also saw my first street side preacher-screamer. He had a microphone and a crowd listening, and he was just standing on the street side screaming at the top of his lungs. He was "calling the people to repentance." But as I've learned, he was doing that completely wrong. Repentance is change, and you invite people to change their lives and follow Christ through love and suppot. You don't stand on a street corner telling everyone that they're sinners and need to confess. It just doesn't work that way.

As for investigators, we've unfortunatly dropped our investigator Paul. We've done everything we can to teach him and share our message, but he won't do anything about it. We've invited him to pray a thousand time if the Book of Mormon is true, but he refuses to do it. And he has now let us know that he doesn't want to be baptized either. He's stuck in a slump in his life right now, and we thought the Gospel would get him out, but we've come to realize that he can't accept the Gospel until he gets himself out first. So we'll only be visiting every once in a while to say, "HI" and see how he's doing.

But our investigator, David, is doing very well. He's accepted the commandments we've taught him so far and has completed almost all of commitments. He's getting excited for his baptizmal date and wants to change his life to follow Christ. So we're very enthusiastic with his efforts and progress. We invited him to be baptized if he came to know that this was true, and he responded, "Well, that's the idea, right?" Usually they look at us with wide, scared eyes when we invite them to be baptized, but he actually understood the point! So that was great. And he prayed to know that Book of Mormon is true four times in one night because he really wanted to know. And, of course, he got his answer. We watched the Joseph Smith video with him, and when we asked him how he felt during the video, he responded, "Convinced." So he should be baptized once Febuary 3 comes around. The Lord definitely prepares people to hear His Gospel.

Hope everyone is doing great! I'm working hard and keeping busy, so all is well here.
Elder Seth

Monday, January 9, 2012

About 4 Months Now...

Well, I feel like our missionary work is picking  back up now that the hollidays are all over with and people are home. I know I feel more rejuvinated, at least. We're working hard with finding new refrences from members, and we've got several to contact this next week, so that should be helpful.

My Spanish is still coming along pretty quickly. I can answer questions 90% of the time and I can have normal conversations without straining myself. A lot of the popular phrases are starting to sound like English to me because I'm comfortable hearing them. And I'm geting more and more used to thinking in Spanish.

Once the 14th hits, it'll be 4 months in the mission. 1/6 of the way done. I feel like time is gonna pick up now that the days are feeling the same and I understand what's going on. Each day has new problems and challenges, but I feel like it's all really routine. All I have to do is think of the people and the new challenges I face, though. Because without that, this'll make for a very repetitive year...

Oh, by the way, thanks so much for the package! I really love the candy and the letters. I'm pretty sure the Jolly Ranchers taste like magic, just so you know.

As for some funny culture things:

I saw a football! A North American Football! It was crazy. That's the third ball I've seen that wasn't a soccer ball or volley ball. So that was pretty exciting.

I saw the monkey again! This time he was running around on the street and jumped up on a handrail and was walking across it. And I walked only inches away from him. That was exciting. He's probably about 2 feet tall. And makes really funny noises...

I had my first homemade pizza here in Peru. It had good old tomato sauce with cheese (thankfully, you never know down here), ground beef, chili peppers, and... beans... and... hot dog? That was totally new for me. I've never had beans on pizza before, let alone hot dog. So that was pretty interresting. It was fun to eat once... once.

So there are people who dress like japanese pop people. They have crazy hair (almost emo, but not in front of the face), big bright watches, thick glasses, pants that tuck into thier faddish shoes. I don't really know how to describe it, but they look pretty funny. I just like their name really, they call them "Pokémon." Just made me laugh a little.

I get to go to Waka de la Luna last week. It's just ruins of some crazy ancient temple where they sacrificed people to false gods. Yep, that's about the story. Apostasy to the max.

Oh, and one last thing for this week, I saw a person riding a six-foot unicycle in the middle of the road while juggling. They sometimes perform like that during red lights in busy roads. Then they go around the cars asking for money. Really, they should get real jobs, but I have to admit, that one was pretty entertaining.

But all is well here in Huanchaco. Hope the new year has started off well for everyone back home!
Hope you're enjoying some cold weather, too, because I haven't stopped sweating for several weeks now.

Elder Seth

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year, everyone!

It's actually quite odd to think that I've just started a year of my life that will be devoted to missionary work. Every single day of this year will be sent as a missionary. A little crazy to think about. A lot happens in a year, really. But I can only imagine the progress I will not only see in myself, but in the Lord's work as well. This'll be the most productive year of my life, quite easily. I'm excited to get out there and teach every day this year.

As for being able to teach, I can now teach almost all the topics in Spanish (some are a little rough..), I can have normal conversations in Spanish, I can lead lessons in Spanish, I can contact in Spanish, etc. I'm feeling so much better being able to teach and communicate. I still have a very long ways to go, but I'm picking it up and learning fast. And I'm really excited to be able to see that progress.

And the more I'm able to communicate, the easier it is for me to keep my chin up and work. I feel as long as I can teach, I'll be able to fulfill my purpose and be happy. Just as long as I'm out working and talking. But I've felt my love grow for these people so much. I can keep focused in my investigators because I really want to help them. I realize more and more how important it is that I keep them in my mind and work to help them come to Christ. It is, after all, the most important message they'll hear in their lives.

So a funny story, I felt quite sick around dinner time yesterday. I don't know what it was, but I really felt like throwing up. So my companion and I headed on over to our penchanista's house to eat dinner, though I wasn't planning on eating much. As we sat down at the table, our pench. lifted the lid to what she was cooking. It had a good ol' chicken in there, like usual, but I noticed something that made my stomach churn like no other. There was a chicken leg in there being fried with it. And the leg was still moving a little. I already felt sick, saw that, and imagined needing to eat that. I think that if she had handed me a plate with a fried chicken leg, I would have thrown up long before it touched my mouth. But thankfully, she was only cooking it for the dogs. But I was seriously afraid of eating something weird of that sort, especially when my stomach is already really iffy. But so far so good. Chicken legs are for the dogs. Phew...

Oh and a correction for a couple of the things I said on the phone. I said that rich people live in front of the beach. By rich, I mean they almost live a US level life style. Their houses are nearly as big as ours or as nice as ours, and only a few own cars. So they don't nearly have the money that we do, but I forget that I now use "rich" on a completely new level. So just a clarification.

Oh, and one more funny story. They eat a lot of rice here. A LOT of rice. It's pretty much in everything. Rice comes with chicken, tuna, potatoes, soup, everything. So I'm pretty much super tired of rice, right? And with that in mind, here goes the story: We were at the house of a member, having a nice family home evening with an investigator. We had a nice lesson on the scriptures and played some pretty ridiculous games that were quite fun. But at the end we get the treat, right? I was super excited to see what kind of sweets they eat in Peru, so they brought it out. They handed me a cup of what looked like oatmeal. I was informed that it was "Arroz con leche" (Rice with milk). It was basically oatmeal with rice. Even the sweets are made of rice. I just don't get it. What's so stinking great about rice?!

But seriously, the work has been going great. Elder Olivares and I got to listen to Rodrigo's mom tell all about the change she's seen in Rodrigo since his baptism. She says he's more responsible and caring for his family. He's stronger in his own descisions and smiles a lot more now. So it was wonderful to hear how the Gospel has helped him find happiness and change his life for the better. That was pretty rewarding to hear. It helped me realize just how important this message is for people, and just how happy of a message we share.

Happy New Year everyone!

Elder Seth