Wednesday, August 21, 2013

After two years of serving and teaching the people of Peru, Victor is home!!! Thank you for all your interest and support during this amazing experience.

He's Back!

The family is all together again!

First meal.

Welcome home Victor!

"I can't believe I'll be home in just one day. I don't understand how two years passed by so fast. This has really been the best experience of my entire life."

I wasn't gonna check my e-mail today, but turns out I have some free time.
Uh... first meal? I don't even know! Not burgers because we're going to Carl's Jr. Spaghetti maybe? I can't think of foods right now. Not rice.
I also miss every kind of juice from the United States. One thing I don't enjoy very much are the drinks here. Every juice is either too watery (not enough flavor) or it has pulp or other things in it that I don't like. I want juice! Especially apple juice. And chocolate milk!! And I also want Cheez-its. Haha. And I want to go to Voodoo Donuts this week. I've never even gone there before but I've been craving donuts too.
Anyway I'm in Chiclayo right now. Got here yesterday in the afternoon. Had my final interview with President Risso already. Kind of sad. I got to visit the Yataco family last night, and they're going to come say goodbye to me this afternoon at the airport. That's going to be super sad for me too, because they're some of my favorite people in the whole world. I just ran into Elder Navas like a half hour ago. Saw Elder Samamè too. Way fun to see them again. A bunch of people who I get to see one last time.
Oh PS it looks like my bags are way too heavy. I left a lot of stuff behind in Cajamarca, but still, I have way too much. There's nothing else I want to leave behind, so, we're probably gonna have to pay for the extra weight.
Yesterday was super sad for me, but now that I'm no longer in my area I feel a lot more excited (now that the goodbyes are over) and I can't wait to see you guys! I can't believe I'll be home in just one day. I don't understand how two years passed by so fast. This has really been the best experience of my entire life. I have a bunch more photos that I'll show you when I get home. I don't have my memory card with me right now so I can't send them. Anyway, I'll see you soon!! Bye!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"I really can't wait to see you guys! I can't believe how soon I'll be home! Wish I could have written more, but I gotta go finish my mission!"

This is so weird. My last p-day of my whole mission. I actually gotta hurry up with this e-mail because I've been taking full advantage of my last p-day playing soccer with the elders (classic way to end my p-days), eating Pizza Hut, and buying some last little souvenirs before I go home. Don't got a whole lot of time left to write this week, but I s'pose it's okay because pretty soon I'll be able to talk to you about whatever the heck you want to know about. I'll jot down some thoughts though for you guys:

Pretty good week overall. Honestly, we aren't seeing that much success. I'm ending my mission on sort of a low point. Not low as in I gave up and haven't been trying or working as hard, because I've still been working. Just, we aren't having much luck. Surprisingly, this is the area I've had the least success in in my entire mission. Even though it's by far the best ward I've been in. I dunno. Guess that's just how it is. But, the few successes (Herber...) definitely make up for the rest of our unsuccessfulness. It's been good here.

Last Monday was Hermana Celia's birthday here at the house, and we got to eat cake 'n stuff. And duck. But, I really do not like duck. I didn't eat that. I'm totally willing to eat guinea pig, and cat, and dog, and whatever, but I don't like duck, and I do not want to eat it. Odd. PS, no, I have not eaten cat or dog here. I wish I had. Anyway that night Hermano Francisco, Celia's husband hired a mariachi band to come play Mexican music live right here in the house for Celia. So, we got to go down and see that too. Pretty fun stuff. Dude, Mexican music is way better than Peruvian music. Have I ever complained to you about Peruvian music yet? Because it's been driving me crazy the entire two years I've been here. I do not like it, at all.

Been writing a whole lot of last-minute letters to converts and members 'n stuff this past week. I'm pretty burned out on letter writing, but I still have tons more that I want to write. This week we had a Zone Conference here in Cajamarca, and President Risso came and spoke, I was way excited, because I thought I wasn't going to be around for any more conferences! I gave President like 15 letters to take back to Chiclayo to deliver to the people there. Still have to write a lot more. Anyway, the conference was so awesome! President Risso spoke the whole time about how we have to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. He also spoke about how in the Church a lot of times we hear about how the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon are apostates and how Emma Smith also apostatized, but President said that when we hear people talking like that we need to defend those four people, because not a single one of them ever denied their testimony of truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. They stood as witnesses of the restoration of the gospel for their entire lives, whether they were active in the Church or not. I took a buncha notes and stuff but I don't remember well enough or have enough time to elaborate on it. But, it was one of my favorite conferences. Then, the bad part came. President Risso invited Elder Callis, Elder Vargas, Hermana Lazalde, and myself to come up to the pulpit and give our final testimonies. I got up there and shared my testimony, and it was super hard because I could barely speak. I was shaking. It was so hard to talk. Apparently I made a bunch of people cry, but I didn't notice from the pulpit. I almost cried too. When I got back to our room for dinner Elder Santos and Elder Lopez were there and they we basically like (en español...) "dude you jerk your testimony was so powerful almost everyone was crying! Hermana Risso was crying, and for the first time ever I even saw President Risso's eyes begin to water." Haha. Cool. It was really sad for me giving that last testimony though...

We visited Kevin Zapana this week. Had a short little visit. Helped resolve some of his doubts that he's had about the Book of Mormon 'n stuff. As we were about to leave I said "well, I hope we've been able to help in some small way." And he responded "on the contrary, you've helped a ton!" He told us that he has had questions for a very long long time, and he said "I've been waiting for the answers you gave me." Way cool. He said the closing prayer, and in it he said "Thank you God for helping me remember that I'm a very special person." Wow, I hope all our visits can help someone feel like that.

Anyway, I don't have time to talk about too much more stuff. I can't believe that this is seriously my last p-day and the last time I'll be e-mailing you guys before I get home. My mission flew by so fast I can't even believe it. I'm gonna miss it a lot. I feel like this is going to be a pretty sad week for me. But, I can't wait to see you guys again! And I can't wait to be in the United States again holy heck I love that place so much!! The mission has been the best thing ever for me. It has been the most life-changing experience ever. I haven't loved every moment, but I wouldn't trade a second of it for anything else. My testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel has gone from strong to unshakable, and the knowledge that I truly am a literal son of a loving God has become so much more apparent to me than ever before. I love the gospel. I love my Heavenly Father, and my older brother and Savior Jesus Christ. I love this gospel, and I owe all I have to the Church of Jesus Christ, because without it, my life wouldn't have a purpose, I wouldn't have hope, I wouldn't have standards, I wouldn't have any goals and wouldn't be doing anything meaningful with my life. I wouldn't be happy if it weren't for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I'm just glad that I was able to spend two years sharing what makes me most happy with whoever was willing to listen. It has been the biggest blessing ever. It's gonna be hard to take this name tag off forever, and stop being an official representative of Christ. I will miss it a whole lot. Now I actually have to start worrying about myself and about school and about work and about all kinds of chaos, and I won't be able to focus 100% on helping other people anymore. It will be a bummer... But, on the plus side, I'll be able to eat delicious American foods, listen to music, and hug girls.

I really can't wait to see you guys! I can't believe how soon I'll be home! Wish I could have written more, but I gotta go finish my mission! I'll just leave you a scripture in 3 John 1:13-14. See ya soon!


Elder Hemsley

OH DUDE! After an entire mission of searching, I finally found, on my very last p-day,OCARINAS FOR SALE. SO AWESOME SO AWESOME. Bought two. Cheap ones. But still. They're ocarinas. Zelda!!!


Monday, August 5, 2013

"Have a fun week having a fun week without me. Next week I'll write you again, but the next week, I'll be too busy FLYING HOME to write. So, sorry about that."

Yo fam!

Okay, this is weird. One more e-mail left to go after this. I feel a little bit rushed today, because it’s my last p-day without a zone activity planned, so it's my last chance to get a lot of things done!! So I'm gonna break out the journal to save myself the trouble and time of actually having to think of things to tell you. Let's start...

This week we were trying to focus on activating a kid named Kevin who just turned 18 but hasn't been to church in a real long time. On Tuesday we invited him to a YSA activity FHE type thing. Went pretty well, and we played some frisbee afterwards with him and some of the other people there. It was the first time he had been to church in forever! So, that was cool. His sister, who's also inactive, came with us too. The next night the YSA planned a surprise birthday party for him here at the Chavez' house (where we live). We took him over here and told him there was going to be some sort of activity. It was funny because he almost didn't come!! He was super tired and was trying to think of excuses to stay home. Haha. But, he ended up coming, and it looks like he had a good time. My companion and I couldn't stay because it was late, so, we walked up the stairs, and went to bed. Hope it was a good experience for him though. He didn't come to church this Sunday because he's in Chiclayo. But, his mom and his sister came! Success!!

Herber told us that he had a great time at the YSA convention in Chiclayo. He loved it! A Seventy came and spoke and Herber said he loved his talk so much that he wished he could have stayed and kept speaking. He is also dead-set on serving his mission. He even asked us if there's any possible way for him to go on his mission sooner. So awesome. Sunday was really rad, because we get to church, and there aren't enough deacons to pass the sacrament (actually, that always happens, because there are only three deacons in total! None of them were there.) so one of the members asked Herber if he could help pass the sacrament. He pulled him aside, explained to him how to do it, and then went up to the front with him to pass the sacrament with him. So awesome! So, Herber passed the sacrament for the first time ever on Sunday. And he did it perfectly! Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting at church, and I was sitting there listening to the testimonies. I like this ward, because it's the only area I've been in in my entire mission where there are no awkward silences in testimony meetings. It’s just testimony after testimony after testimony with no breaks until the meeting ends. Pretty rad. My companion and I were sitting with Herber and with Jusseff. I wasn't planning on sharing my testimony, until Jusseff made a comment about how it's my last fast and testimony meeting in my mission. So, I got up and shared my testimony after all (after church, at lunch, Hermano Franciso (my pensionista's husband) joked that it wasn't a good last testimony of my mission because I didn't cry. Hehe). When I finished, Herber came up and shared his testimony too!! He was nervous, but it was so awesome to see that before I go home!! Later, in priesthood meeting, one of the members of our elders quorum announced that Herber is looking for a job and asked the whole elders quorum to try to help him find a job so that he can pay for his mission. Man, that is so cool. Pretty cool church day.

Random funny experiences of the week: We were walking down this one dirt road, in between a bunch of tall multiple-story houses, knocking doors, when suddenly this lady yells to us from her house "the dog is going to eat you guys!! Hurry! Get out of here!!" I saw no dog. Also, we knocked this one door, and this old man came to answer. I said "good afternoon", and he said the same, then turned around, walked slowly back inside his house, and shut the door. That bugged me, so I rang his doorbell again. Haha. He didn't answer again.

This week we went back to finish painting that shack. More service. Pretty fun times. The member bought us Inca Kola afterward. Win.

On Wednesday we spent almost the entire afternoon with the bishop's wife, Hermana Elisabeth (I don't know how to spell her name. There are a lot of different ways to spell that name here...) who took us to Otuzco to go visit a lady who has been inactive in the Church for like 15 years. We got to Otuzco, and then we seriously walked for like an hour trying to find the house. There are no addresses in Otuzco. We were in such a pretty place though. It was awesome. I took a few stupid photos but they don't do it any justice whatsoever. They don't even look that cool. But it was gorgeous. We finally found the lady's house, and visited with her and her husband and her parents-in-law and her brother-in-law and sister-in-law. The lady, Katia, is the only member of the whole family. But the family was awesome and had a lot of good questions for us and seemed very interested in the activities we have at the church. Rad fam. After that, we walked another long way back to the main road where we took a freaking combi back to the bishop's house. There were at least 9 million people crammed into that van. It was so uncomfortable! I hate traveling in this country so much!!! We got to the bishop's house and had a short visit with his family and ate a little dinner. Anyway, on Saturday we went back to Otuzco to visit that same family. We got to their house a little faster the second time. But it was less of an adventure. We taught the family about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Went pretty well. I feel like this family can progress with time...

Ah yeah, got to meet the last district of my mission this week too! Well, only two people changed. And one of the new people I already knew from before. Hermana Harmon, from Idaho, came and replaced Hermana Córdova. She's been out here for like three months or something. She doesn't think so, but she's learned a ton of Spanish since she first got here. She's in my ward now. And a brand new elder came and replaced Elder Greene. His name is Elder Mendoza, and he's Mexican, but has lived in the United States for most of (if not all of... I can't remember) his life, and is still learning Spanish. He does know more than the average new missionary though, which will help him. Looks like a pretty cool district to end with! Ah! And Hermana Córdova got transferred to Pacasmayo and is opening a second area there of sister missionaries! Too cool!! Now both Pacasmayo and Olmos have been split into two areas. The work is moving forward here in Peru! Woohoo! I miss both of those areas a lot holy heck I want to visit the people there. I don't think I will be able too before I go home... But at least I'll get to see a few people in Chiclayo probably. Possibly Picsi too.

Oooh! Speaking of Picsi, we got our monthly mission bulletin this week, and it always has photos of some of the baptisms from the past month, and there was a photo on there from Picsi, of Carolina and Alfredo's baptism!! Carolina and Alfredo got baptized!!! That is the couple who was super super poor and the church was going to help them build a house and get married so that they could get baptized. They got baptized after all! I am so happy for them!! Seriously that made me so happy seeing that. What a great family. I miss them. I honestly have no idea how many of my investigators in past areas have ended up getting baptized since I've left. Hopefully a few of them...

Anyway, those are a few random happenings of this past week. Today is p-day, and I'm gonna go out and buy s'more stuff. I just have no idea what it is that I'm going to buy. Also, I'm going to buy soda. And Pringles. Probably. Mmmm... Today's also Hermana Celia's birthday, so we're prob gonna party tonight. Woo!! Oh PS I really like the Thanksgiving in Utah idea. I was thinking about doing that exact same thing now that freaking Rick's College deleted Thanksgiving break! But yeah, good idea. But you know what is a bad idea? Going to California for the fourth time without me. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT. PS if you haven't already done it this year, don't forget to buy me an In-N-Out shirt please. :) 

And I'm not trunky, if you can believe that. Only when I'm forced to think about my mission ending and having to plan and get ready. But, it's not distracting me from working! I try to keep my mind off going home. Just like how I tried to keep my mind off going on my mission so much that I didn't do anything to prepare myself to come out here. Hehe. I seriously don't think I ever even once looked up "Chiclayo" on the internet! I had no idea what to expect!! Have a fun week having a fun week without me. Next week I'll write you again, but the next week, I'll be too busy FLYING HOME to write. So, sorry about that. I miss you guys! Excited to see you soon! Bye!

Oh gosh I just got my Peruvian residence resignation letter that I have to sign. I never thought this day would actually come...

-Elder Hemsley

Here are some of the pictures that Victor sent this week.  If you'd like to see the rest just click on the slideshow at the top of this blog.

"Proselyting out in the middle of nowhere in Otuzco."

"Pretty places actually exist in Peru." (Otuzco)

WARNING TO ALL OREGON DUCK FANS...this next picture is extremely graphic, so you might want to skip it!


"Oh boy oh boy oh boy, on Saturday night we went to go visit a member family, and while we were there, the zone leaders showed up with cans of root beer, and we had root beer floats with the family!! ROOT BEER FLOATS are you serious I haven't had those in like two years or more!!"

Dang it, I am seriously weirded out right now because things keep happening that make me remember how soon I'm going home.

On Saturday three elders in my zone went to Chiclayo, because their missions are over. They're done! And it was just really weird thinking that in only three weeks I'll be doing the exact same thing!! And then today two other missionaries from my district got transferred and we saw them off at the bus station too. Just another reminder of how soon I'll be getting on that bus. And all the missionaries bug me about how soon I'm leaving too. Dang it guys!! I seriously thought I was gonna have to try really hard to pretend I didn't want to go home at this point, but really, I don't want to! It’s really a mix of being incredibly happy and excited to see you guys again, and being super sad that this is almost over...

And gosh dangit, right now I'm drinking that Inca Kola "The Golden Kola" Americanized version of Inca Kola and it's not as good as regular Inca Kola!!

This week was a pretty good one though. On Tuesday I had to give my district class. One of my least favorite parts of being a district leader. But, it's cool too. Taught a class about the Priesthood. It’s something that I realized a bunch of the people we're visiting do not understand well, and so the class was all about how we can help people really understand what the priesthood is, how someone can receive it, how the priesthood is used, and why it is important. I really had no desire to teach that day, but, it turned out a whole lot better than I expected, with my district participating and everything. I really liked it. One of the missionaries even came up to me after the class and said "thank you for the class Elder Hemsley." I don't think anyone has ever thanked me for a class I've taught before, so it must have been alright after all. Kinda fun. The Priesthood is really such an important topic, and it's something I am so thankful for. My testimony of the priesthood has grown so much since I've been out here, and I've realized more thank ever how huge of a blessing the priesthood is, and has been, in my life.

Ah! Another thing I liked about Tuesday was that I got a big ol' batch of Dear Elders! Possibly my last, or second to last batch, I assume. But it’s the batch where Mom sent me all those letters from Zanna, and from all the other people in Eugene 3rd Ward who are starting their missions. I loved reading those!! Reading all those letters from all these missionaries I know from back home was so inspiring!! As I was reading I remember thinking to myself wow, the mission seriously is the coolest thing ever. I'm so excited for all of them!! And I can't wait to read all their mission blogs when I get home! I wish all of my friends could have the experience of serving a mission. The mission is the biggest blessing ever...

On Wednesday we got to do some sw33t service! Well, pretty regular service, but still, I like service. Helped one of the members from our ward paint this kiosk he owns in one of the parks here, that he plans to start selling food at. We didn't finish, but we worked for a good three hours. Gonna go back to finish the job this week probably. Fun times.

That afternoon Elder Maldonado and I went with the sister missionaries to visit one of their investigators who was going to be baptized. Since I'm district leader I'm now trying to visit all the investigators with baptismal dates in my district before interviewing them. It makes the interview easier, and more comfortable for the investigator (and for me...). The investigator's name is José (A.K.A. one of the most common names of all time in Peru. If not the absolute most common.) who was getting married to his girlfriend on Friday so that he could get baptized the day after. He was way awesome. While we were there he asked us if we could give his mother-in-law a blessing, because on Monday (err, today...) she was going to be operated on. So, I gave her a blessing. And then after that Elder Maldonado gave José a blessing so that he could stay strong in his efforts to keep the Word of Wisdom (which honestly, he isn't having any problems with). Kinda neat visit. The next day was his interview, and it went really well. No problems. Had a huge desire to be baptized. I feel lucky that so far every single person I've interviewed has passed. One elder told me that the first three people he interviewed for baptism all failed! That would be so uncomfortable for me. But, it's all good. At the end of the interview I was about to ask José who he wanted to baptize him, but, he beat me to it and asked "would you baptize me?" Uh, yeah! So, I was pretty stoked about that. On Friday he got married in the chapel. We went for the beginning, but left before the dancing and partying started. We saw the actual marriage part though. Dude, marriages are boring here. Not that I have anything to compare it to, because I haven't exactly attended many (or any...) weddings in the States, but, it was boring. Made me happy that in the States we can actually get married inside the temple, instead of having to first get married legally outside, and then get married a second time in the temple, which is what you have to do in Peru (not that José would have been able to get married in the temple anyways, he wasn't even baptized...). Saturday was his baptism. In the morning we filled the baptismal font and while it was filling I taught myself how to play some Box Car Racer on the piano. Hehe. Too fun. The baptism itself went well. Except hardly anyone showed up! It was nice though. But the water was freezing. Holy crap. Even for me, who always makes fun of Peruvians for thinking the water is too cold, it was cold. José was shivering as I said the prayer, and then I baptized him and we got the heck out of that water!!! Haha. José is really rad though. I'm super stoked for him. After the wedding he and his wife Rubí gave a little cake from their wedding to the six of us missionaries. Yum-o! We took some dumb pics and then ate the heck out of it!!

This weekend Herber went with a bunch of the YSA to Chiclayo for a multi-stake YSA convention that was all weekend long. They should be getting back late tonight. But I'm way excited that he got to go to that!! I'm sure it has been a great faith building experience for him, and a ton of fun. Before he left he came by to borrow one of my ties. Herber is so involved in the Church, I love it so much. And he has great support and great friends who are YSA. Really cool. He's bummed that I'm going home soon... Aww man...

Oh boy oh boy oh boy, on Saturday night we went to go visit a member family, and while we were there, the zone leaders showed up with cans of root beer, and we had root beer floats with the family!! ROOT BEER FLOATS are you serious I haven't had those in like two years or more!!

Yesterday was Peruvian Independence Day. So, everyone was drinking in the streets. Freaking drunk people annoy me so much. One guy grabbed me by the arm and was like "Jehova! Jehova!" And I totally thought he was going to kiss me. Yeah. Cool. Get sober. We sang the national hymn of Peru in sacrament meeting. I didn't know how it went...

Also, yesterday it hit me really hard how few days I really have left of my mission. So, I sunk down to the literal definition of trunky and actually started organizing my suitcase, seeing which things I could throw out or give away to save as much space as possible. Still have a long way to go with that. Today for p-day I went out and tried to buy some more souvenirs. I bought a few little things, but still, with the amount of money you guys have sent me to by stuff with, I should be buying tons more!! This morning we went to the bus station to see off the two missionaries who are getting transferred. Both from my district. Elder Greene, and Hermana Córdova. I'm bummed because Elder Greene is one of my best friends in the mish and he makes me laugh so much. I've been his district leader in two different zones. And Hermana Córdova is super cool too, but she's only temporarily serving here because her actual mission is in Argentina. She's the first 19 year old sister missionary I've met here. Anyway, I'm anxious to know who's gonna replace them and make up my last district in my mission. After that we went to Otuzco with the Chavez family (my pensionista's family) and Jusseff and Miguel and Lorena (two other members from our ward) and just hung out in this super pretty place, played frisbee, had a picnic, and relaxed. It was super awesome. Fun p-day!

Alright, I got yer e-mails. Sounds like you had a fun week (whoa, it's weird not hearing about things you did three weeks after you did them...). High Adventure, and a YW rafting trip. Sounds like two things I would so not have enjoyed, but, I'm glad you guys can enjoy them at least!! And Bryn got her wisdom teeth out. Hehe. That was no fun. Speaking of teeth, I'm really hoping my teeth are still healthy after this two year long Peruvian adventure. I'm worried.

Anyway, I gotta get going. FHE's 'n stuff. Y'know, Monday night. I can't wait to see you guys so soon! And I can't wait to eat Carl's Jr. with you guys! Woohoo!! No more rice!!!

See ya!

Elder Hemz

Victor sent a bunch of new pictures.  Here are just a few.  If you'd like to see the rest, just click the slideshow at the top of this blog.

"I hate traveling in this country."

"José's baptism."

"There's some good lookin' missionaries."

"We don't even have any idea who she was. But that's one of the nicest things someone's done for me on my mission..."

Hola guys

Well, I've been spending the past 15 minutes trying to send you guys some photos, but, my camera is not doing so well (it hasn't been working right for months now) and I'm not able to open the photos on the computer. That sounds bad, but later I'm gonna get an SD card adapter and plug the memory card in straight to the computer and take 'em off from there instead. I dunno if that makes sense to you guys, but it makes sense to me, and it works. But I can't do it right now. So, unless I get that adapter soon, I probably won't be able to send pics this time. Oh well.

It’s been a tough week! Pros: We visited a ton of members this week. We're gaining their confidence and their friendship. Kewl. Cons: None of the members are giving us referrals! And all our regular appointments with investigators are falling through (like always)!! So, we're not seeing too many people progressing right now. Kinda bummed, because this isn't exactly how I want to end my mission. But, I s'pose as long as I'm working hard, that's all that matters.

It’s kinda weird getting e-mails now. Because now I have to split my internet time between reading and writing instead of only writing. But, this hasn't really been the most productive or eventful week, so I might not have that much to write about anyway! Let's see what kinds of things I can pull out of my memory (actually, my journal) today...

First, one of the highlights of the week: After I wrote you guys last week, we went to have an FHE with one of the families in our ward. The Marin Lopez family. Why was it a highlight? Because the lady (Laura) made us tacos. TACOS!! They were soo super delicious too. Look, a bunch of missionaries who have a lot of time out here have told me "when I first got to Peru, I hated the food, but now I've actually grown to like it a lot." Some people say that. But, not me. I do not like Peruvian food and I jump for joy and give everlasting thanks to my Heavenly Father every time I get to eat food that is not from this country. I would kill someone for a nice burger. Well... probably not, but still. I mean, it's a possibility. So, that was one awesome part of the week. Two other food-related highlights of the week were the two times I ate pizza. Celia, my pensionista made us pizza one day, and it was delish. And today, for p-day, we ate Pizza Hut. YES YES YES AMERICAN FOOD YES!!! Pretty soon I'll be eating Costco muffins 'n stuff. (Seriously, I always torture myself thinking about food. I've never been able to get over that habit my entire mission...)

Oh yeah, something that bothers me a whole lot (I sure am a complainer today) are all the churches that teach bad things about us "Mormons" in their regular church meetings... It drives me nuts! I can't remember one single time that I've ever heard anything bad about any other church in any church meeting I've ever been to in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I can't remember reading one single article talking bad about other churches in any issue of the Ensign or Liahona magazines. But, these other churches are all about that. Because we worship Joseph Smith, don't believe in God, don't believe in the Bible, have seven wives, and are racists. "I learned that about you guys in my church." That's a common phrase we hear. Oh yeah, did I ever tell you about the time we passed by a preacher of a different faith who was teaching someone at their door, and the only thing they were talking about was all the reasons why the Mormon church is false? Psh. The only thing I remember hearing in General Conference about another church was when Elder Oaks complemented the Catholic church a few conferences back. 'Member this?: "Many Christians have voluntarily given sacrifices motivated by faith in Christ and the desire to serve Him. Some have chosen to devote their entire adult lives to the service of the Master. This noble group includes those in the religious orders of the Catholic Church and those who have given lifelong service as Christian missionaries in various Protestant faiths. Their examples are challenging and inspiring..." I liked that, because it is the exact opposite of what I always hear in the streets and in people's houses. Compliments.

We went to visit Herber this week. Had a pretty rad visit, like always. This one was rad not because of what we taught, but because of what he told us! He told us that what is goal is, and what he most wants right now, is that one day he can be at home on a Monday night with his whole family, having a Family Home Evening where his whole family participates. He wants his family to join the Church. He told us that he remembers us teaching him that those who participate in the necessary ordinances and endure to the end will end up in one place after this life, and those who don't will end up in another. He said that he's thought about that a lot ever since we taught that to him, and that he hates to think that he could end up in one place, and the rest of this family in another. He wants his family to receive all the same blessings as him. He told us that he's felt so good since joining the Church and that the people there treat him like family and he loves it. And he told us that he has an aunt who might be interested in learning about the church too. Getting to know Herber and seeing such an amazing change in his life and watching his testimony grow has just been one of the most amazing experiences for me. It has strengthened my own faith and testimony so much. Herber is a huge example to me.

On Sunday, Herber finally got the priesthood. Because of miscommunications and confusion, it just kept not happening every Sunday. This Sunday in Priesthood meeting, but old MTC teacher, Hermano Casanova, put his hands on Herber's head and ordained him a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. Pretty awesome. Finally!! In the ol' journal I wrote "Herber is like my most awesomest convert." Bad grammar is just a part of who I am. Leave me alone. I do it on purpose because it makes me laugh more. Oh yeah, and Herber went with us to teach two lessons this week. Future missionary fo' sho'.

Oh yeah! On Thursday I finished the Book of Mormon again. That was fast! Fourth time I've read it cover-to-cover on my mission. Pretty cool. After that I didn't know what to read, so I started something I've never done before: reading Doctrine and Covenants. I'm reading fast too. I've read over 100 pages already. It's pretty neat too. Though, I prefer the BoM because it's a continuous story from page 1 to page 531. Actually, that's a lie, because of Ether.

Oh check out this highlight of a different day:


One highlight of today: Somebody actually told us that he doesn't want to listen to us! We contacted this guy in the street, talked for a bit, and when we asked if we could visit him sometime, he said no. Why is that a highlight? Because usually people just lie or make up the dumbest excuses for why we can't visit them! This guy was honest. "I don't like talking to preachers."

Hehe. Count your blessings, I guess. (Actually, counting my blessings has been something that has helped me a ton on my mission.)

We're still visiting Edgar, and he's still one of my coolest investigators. He's having such a hard time. He has so many problems and trials in his life and he just wants everything to calm down. He told us "Right now my main goal is to get married to Milagros [his girlfriend who he lives with and has a kid with], and get baptized. I've been listening to you guys and learning long enough that I now know for sure that this is the true church." I like when people say stuff like that. I feel bad for him because he's the nicest, coolest guy, but life's throwing all it's worst at him. After the lesson with Edgar, we said goodbye and started heading out of the restaurant (he lives in a restaurant owned by his parents-in-law). After a minute, Edgar comes up to us (we were already outside) and said "Elders, want some chicken? Come on in and eat." Uhh... okay! Can't turn that down because the chicken there is so good! So, we go back in and Edgar brings us each a plate of chicken and fries. As we're eating, this other lady who was eating in the restaurant comes up to us and said "do you guys like it? Don't worry, I already paid for it. Have a good night!" And then she left. Wait, what?! So we ask Edgar what the heck just happened and who that lady is. He said that as we were leaving, that lady asked him "were they talking to you about God?" "Yeah", he replied. To which she said "Get them a couple plates of chicken. I'll pay for it." Haha, wow! We don't even have any idea who she was. But that's one of the nicest things someone's done for me on my mission. I dunno who that lady was, but I wish I could thank her. That was really nice. And so delicious!!

One funny thing that happened this week is that one night my companion was so tired that he got in bed and fell asleep with all his proselyting clothes still on. White shirt, tie, and even his shoes! He slept like that all night. When he woke up, he was already dressed. His shoes were even still on. Hahaha. So weird.

Had two stressful baptisms in the district this week, but, it's a long story and I don't feel like telling you about it. So, why am I even mentioning it?... I don't know.

Today for p-day we did something cool. We played basketball. BASKETBALL!!! Not soccer!! YES!! I don't even like basketball that much, or any sport, but I am so sick of soccer that playing anything else is a special treat. Then we watched 17 Miracles and ate pizza. Yum yum yum.

Oh yeah, and our shower got fixed finally. The water is actually hot now. Hot water showers!! I have missed those SO MUCH!!! What a blessing.

Jealous that you guys had fun in Park City. You aren't supposed to have fun without me. Stop. PS why are you going on all these vacations weeks before I get home?! That is so not even fair!! Got the pictures too. Pretty cool. All my little cousins aren't little anymore...

Dude Sam you just made me so jealous talking about Star Wars books and stuff. I wanted to read that Darth Plagueis book so bad!! Oooh boy I miss being a nerd. Still got a whole bookshelf of Star Wars books waiting to be read at home.

Alright, I gotta go now. I only have three p-days left. What the heck. I should probably go buy some souvenirs. I really need to get on that. I'll talk to you (literally) soon! I miss you guys!

-Elder Hemsley

Monday, July 22, 2013

"Cajamarca is cold, and when heated houses don't exist, that makes showering a pretty unpleasant experience..."

Hello home!

Well, I just logged on to my e-mail to see 22 new messages in my inbox, all error messages telling me that the photos I sent you last week didn't make it through. Dang it, the internet has some serious problems here.

Well, I'm doin' pretty good these days. I can't believe how close I am to being home. But, the weird thing is, I'm a lot less excited about going home now than I used to be. The closer it gets, the sadder I am that this is all about to end. It's so unreal. But don't get me wrong, I'm ridiculously excited to see you guys again! I'm just a little bummed that my only chance to be a representative of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is almost over. This has been the hardest, and most stressful, most frustrating thing I've ever done in my entire life. And the best thing I've ever done. I wish that somehow I could go back and see you guys and still be a missionary at the same time...

Well, I'll tell you some stuff I guess...

We've been focusing a lot more on visiting members ever since that transmission from Salt Lake the other week. I can already see and feel a huge difference in the ward and the members here. We're gaining their trust and their friendship a lot more. They're getting more excited about participating in missionary work. It's pretty awesome. I feel like ever since that transmission the way we work has totally changed. The way I'm working now is so different than the way I've been working for the past two years. I like it. I'm excited to see how this new member-focused work style is going to help this work go forward for years to come.

Fun part of the week: Elder Meza came to visit! Brother Meza, actually. He finished his mish in December. His last area was this one, and so he came the other day to visit with another elder who recently finished too, Elder Cabrera. Way fun to see them again! Elder Meza is one of the most awesomest missionaries I've ever met. Super cool guy. Super fun to see him again. He told me that my Spanish has gotten way better. I can't tell. All I know is that my English has gotten worse. He's now teaching English at a Catholic school in Lima. It's not that weird, this is a Catholic country...

We visited a less active family this week. The Zapana Cordova family. The mom, Judith, went to live and work in Salt Lake City for three years, and met the missionaries and got baptized there. Seriously, why are there even missionaries in Salt Lake City if everyone is already Mormon? Hehe, just kidding. Anyway we talked to her and her daughter about the importance of reading the scriptures. She told us that when she was in Utah she read the entire Book of Mormon and she loved it. She felt so blessed when she was reading frequently and active in the Church in Utah. Her whole life had changed. Now that she's back in Peru she's sort of fallen away from all of that, and she misses it. She misses Salt Lake too. She loved how calm and clean it us compared to Peru. She wants to go back. And she wants to start reading her scriptures again to let that light that she used to have back into her life. Pretty cool. Hopefully we can help this family. But, her husband and oldest daughter are not members. She's now working in a karaoke-bar owned by her husband, and her busiest days are Friday and Saturday nights, all night. So, going to Church is hard. We'll see what we can do.

Something a little not-so-normal is that I taught one lesson this week sitting in the street. Haha. It’s a recently paved street and cars still aren't driving on it. We got a referral to go visit this 18 year old kid named Luis who's a member, and his two friends he lives with named Manuel and Reynaldo, who are 16 and 14. They don't have seats in their house, so we just sat down in the middle of the street and talked to them. Kinda different. Luis is a less active member. He used to live in an orphanage and the director of the orphanage was a member of the Church. The missionaries came and visited and a lot of the kids there got baptized. But then they got a new director who's Catholic who no longer let them go to Church or let the missionaries come visit (we're still not allowed in there), so he and the rest of the member kids stopped going to Church. When the kids turn 18, they leave the orphanage, and Luis showed up at Church on Sunday with Reynaldo. Pretty cool kids. The next day we went back to visit again and Manuel and Reynaldo accepted the invitation to be baptized. But, we can't set a date because they need permission first. They came to a Church activity with us after that. But, for some reason they didn't come back to Church on Sunday. Eh. We've only visited them twice. We'll help them out s'more.

I interviewed another kid this week for baptism. The interview lasted forever because the kid loved to talk! But he was awesome. Nine years old. No problems. Got baptized on Saturday. He, like basically every kid here (basically every person actually) was freaked out about the water, but he got baptized real quick without problems. I don't think he held his breath though because he came up gasping for breath. Hehe. Swimming lessons basically don't exist here, which probably explains everyone's fear of water. But, I still don't understand everyone's fear of cold drinks!! And I never will.

One thing that makes me mad is that people here keep trying to make my companion feel bad about his long hair. Especially people who think they know something about the scriptures. "What does the Bible say about men with long hair?" They yell at us North Americans in the street, and they stare and make rude comments about my companion. And when the smart alecs who try to use the Bible to tell my comp he shouldn't have long hair start talking, I just want to pull out a picture of Christ and be like "do you know who this is?" And they'll obviously be like "that's Jesus Christ." To which I'd respond "Yeah, it's Christ. Go tell Christ his long hair is a sin too." And some Christians here have the strangest beliefs ever. Dancing is a sin, non-gospel music is a sin, girls wearing pants instead of skirts or a dress is a sin, going to parties is a sin, having long hair is a sin, etc... But being mean to anyone who is different is not a sin. It seriously drives me insane.

Cajamarca is cold, and when heated houses don't exist, that makes showering a pretty unpleasant experience. We have a water heater, but it doesn't heat up the water very much. I still shiver every time I shower. I don't shower every day, because I can't handle it. Yesterday morning I took a shower. The electric water heater doesn't heat up the water very much. And if you put your hand up by the nozzle where the water comes out, the water shocks you because it's charged with electricity. Scary! Well, yesterday it was even worse, because while I was showering the water heater exploded!! I heard a pop and saw a flash of light and then I looked up and the water heater was busted and smoking. Kinda freaky. I got out of the shower pretty quickly after that. And now we don't have warm water to shower with. I'm going to have to borrow the other shower downstairs that isn't ours because if I don't I will never shower because it's freezing!

Last night we went to Hermano Casanova's house. He was my teacher in the Lima MTC. We went with the ZLs for dinner. We ate pizza and talked with his family. He's way cool, and really funny. So cool that I get to finish my mission in his ward! Had fun visiting them. They invited us back over on Wednesday for dessert. Yum!

Got yer mail, from like a month ago. And got yer first batch of e-mails! 22 months in, and I just got the first batch of e-mails from you guys. Haha. Cool. I'm so jealous that you're in Park City! Not fair!! But, no Tyler, no Mitchell, and no me?! Seems pretty lame to me. Hehe. And Jacque went to EFY?! Seriously I miss EFY so much, it was like the funnest thing I ever did. That's why I went back even after I graduated high school. Hehe, I had so much fun that year with James. We are silly. 

Alright, I gotta get going. Have some FHE's to go to tonight. I will see you so soon! I can't believe it!!

Elder Hemsley