Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas in Peru...unexpected surprises (not so good)...and a phone call home (so good)!

Well hello again

This is weird since I just talked to you guys yesterday. I don't have much else to add. I s'pose I'll share some of my Christmas experience with those other people who weren't in on the top-secret phone call.

The Christmas tradition here is that everything basically happens at midnight on Christmas Eve. Or midnight on Christmas. I don't know which day it is because it's midnight so it's right in the middle. So the midnight in between Eve and Day. lolz. They have a big dinner and parties and whatever starting at midnight going to however late they're willing to stay awake. I don't really know what happens because we slept. So on Christmas Eve Elder Despain and I had a nice dinner with Mama Nena and Papi Alberto, and then we went to bed late.

Skip forward a few hours...

3:45 AM, Christmas morning. We wake up to discover that it's been raining a lot and our roof is leaking a ton. Water is all over the floor. Everywhere! And it's still coming down. Luckily none of our stuff got ruined, but the water was falling right next to my desk which has almost literally everything I own on it so it could have been really bad. So we put like five buckets out to catch the water and went back to sleep to deal with it later.

We wake up at like 7:00 and sweep the water out the door and get help from Papi Alberto who does a temporary roof fix job. We really need to get a real roof... and running water! We still don't have water! But right now I'm more concerned about the roof because if it rains again it will not be a good experience.

So Christmas is rainy. Really gloomy and wet all day long. Probably pretty similar to ol' Oregon I'd assume. Except we spent the day in the rain. We went to church that morning and only like 40 people showed up, which is kind of funny because for a lot of people Christmas is the only day of the year they go to church, but here people use it as an excuse not to go. But we visited an inactive member and got him to come to church with us! He said it was the first time he's been to church in seven years. So that's awesome! Hopefully it won't be seven more until next time. His house was flooding too. Tons of houses were flooding. Rain is bad.

We spent Christmas going around doing short visits with members and investigators. It was nice. I figure spending Christmas sharing a message about Christ with the world is a fairly decent way to spend the day. Neither Elder Despain or I have received our Christmas packages from home yet, so presents haven't happened yet. But we at least had stockings of candy.

Sooo... this is the crap part, and the part that my familia doesn't know about yet. Last night we got a call from our Zone Leader telling us that Elder Despain is getting changed to a new area tomorrow. Nooooooooo!!!!!!! This is going to be soo hard. I still don't know Pacasmayo very well. I don't know the investigators or members very well. I don't know anything. But now I'm going to be the one who's supposed to know everything about the area with my new companion. I'm not even done with my training yet! Whoever my new comp is is going to finish the second half of my training. This is going to be such a difficult few weeks. I'm seriously so nervous I feel sick. Not happy. I'm worried that I'll ruin the work here...

So yeah. That's no good. I'd be okay if I was the one being changed, but not losing my companion who's the one who knows everything about this place.

I'm hoping my package comes on Wednesday. I think that's when our Zone/District meeting is this week because of the changes. We'll see. Oh yeah, random thing: If you put Jesus stickers on your packages or letters it is more likely that they will actually get to me. Haha. No joke! I've heard it from a bunch of people and I guess the culture is that the people are superstitious so if they see a package with Jesus stickers all over it they will feel too guilty about stealing it or opening it. Haha. Just a tip.

Shoot. I dunno what else to share with you guys this time. I'm not feeling so great today. Real tired and kinda sick. Elder Despain's not feeling great either. We must have ate too much chicken and rice. Next Sunday is New Years day and so I doubt people are gonna come to church that day either. I don't even think we can go out proselyting that day because everyone is going to be mega drunk. I dunno though. I heard we might have some Zone activity planned but who knows.

Anyway, I hope everyone is liking the blog. I try to be more entertaining usually but I'm not feeling my best and can't think of much else to talk about. I always talk about the dumbest stuff in my e-mails because it's like the only chance I have to talk about really stupid things, and it's entertaining. Haha. So I enjoy distracting myself by talking about... whatever I usually talk about. Music I miss. Sweet Christmas presents I've received in the past. Movies I wanna watch. Speaking of that I really badly wanna watch Spider-man. All week I've been wanting to watch Spider-man, and it's because I've had that Yellowcard song Gifts & Curses stuck in my head which is about Spider-man and is also one of the most beautifulest Yellowcard songs there is. Spider-man 1-3. Really wanna watch. Not 3 so much, but 1 and 2. I'm just super excited to see The Hobbit when I get back. Also Ghostbusters 3 and Men in Black 3. Haha. But mostly Star Wars in bluray and in 3D in the theaters, obviously. And I don't even like 3D movies.

Talking to you guys yesterday was like the best thing ever. I started getting really quiet near the end because it was getting too hard to say anything without getting too sad. As we were walking back to our room from the calling place I was trying my hardest the whole time to fight back tears. Well, more like trying really hard not to just flat out start crying. I never cry, but I was so close. I never knew it was possible to miss anybody so much. I love you guys way too much and I'm so thankful for everything you've ever done for me and everything you continue to do. Thanks for always writing because reading your letters is one of my favorite things in the world.

Eh, it's been a tough week. I have a feeling these next few weeks are gonna be really tough too. I'm not ready to have my companion depend on me for anything when I'm still trying to figure out how to be a missionary. I dunno who he's gonna be but most likely he'll be Latin. It's weird that I even got a North American companion in the first place. But who knows! I'll tell you about him next week after I meet him! Weirdest Christmas of my life is over. I doubt next year can top it. And then the year after that will be the happiest Christmas ever. Next time I e-mail it'll be a new year! Wow! 2012. Rumor has it the world is gonna end. I guess if that happens I'll get to see you guys a little bit sooner. So I s'pose it wouldn't be that bad. But I'd like to have a little bit more time in this world if possible.

So yeah, I'm fresh outta stuff in my brain to share with you all. I'll race you to 2012! Loser buys the winner Mountain Dew.

Time Zones. Suckerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Haha I miss you mucho.

Until next week!

-Elder Hemsley

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Wishes and an Etch-a-Sketch from Peru!

Dear Your Name Here,

It's been a long time, very long time since I've heard your voice and I bet you never thought I was
So sorry so
I've had a hard time, very hard time seeing less of you
I never though you knew

Yeah, good song. NFG brings the flava. Anywayz...

Merry Almost Christmas! Wow! I can't believe Chrismas is less than a week away! Because it really doesn't feel like Christmas here. It's like twenty zillion degrees and super sunny! I hope you all have a pretty super holiday though. I really don't know what to expect of a Peruvian Christmas. Excited to find out what it's like though! But I'm gonna miss all of our family traditions a ton. Also my own weird traditions that I started. Like how for the past three Christmases Ive woken up earlier than everyone else to watch my All-American Rejects documentaries before going up to open all the presents. You guys thought I was sleeping late, but I was just being dumb. I dunno, I did that one year, and then the next year I was like "oh yeah, I watched that last year and it was fun, so I might as well do it again" and then last year I decided I've already done it twice so I might as well make it a tradition. I don't get it either. But I'll miss those completely non-Christmas related DVDs this year. I was thinking about all the most awesomest presents I've ever gotten for Christmas, and I came up with a top three. One: my first Gameboy with Pokemon Yellow. I think getting that when I was like 7 was like the happiest moment of my life. Two: My electric guitar. This one ended up being better in the long run. Three: I don't know how old I was but I must have been like 8 or something, and we were in California for Christmas at G+G Paul's house and I got the sweetest Lego Aquasharks set ever and it's still the coolest thing and I still love Legos and I want some really bad right now. Star Wars Legos.

Oh yeah, speaking of Christmas... I finally got your birthday package! You know, for my birthday that was over a month ago? That package you sent like two months ago? Yeah, I just got it. Thanks so much though! CHEWY GOBSTOPPERS!! The Dog Dazer is funny. Elder Despain and I are going to have so much fun messing around with that and annoying all the dogs in town. Especially thanks for the dog flea collars. Next time one of these wild rabid dogs comes up to me I'll be sure to take the time to do it the favor of putting a collar around it's neck to cure it's flea problem. You guys are weird. Oh yeah, speaking of candy, next time you decide to randomly send me candy I have a specific request: Warheads. I want them so bad! Also sour gummy worms, but I could probably find those here... also Mountain Dew.

Anyway I'm on a mission and none of that stuff had anything to do with my mission or my crazy life these days. Last Sunday, the day before I sent all the pictures, I gave my first of what will probably be a huge amount of talks in Sacrament Meeting. It was short and simple, but it went fairly well. Actually I didn't feel like writing a talk so I pulled out a talk I wrote while I was in the MTC and just used that. The Spanish was horrendous, but I corrected it as I went. Except I had one huge problem, and it was that I had to go pee really bad. I almost peed my pants giving a talk in church!! Actually, I did a little bit. Haha. I think it was pretty obvious that I had to pee too. I cut my talk a little bit short because I knew if I stayed up there any longer I would explode. Soo... that was my first Spanish sacrament talk experience. Haha. Awkward.

That lady I talked about the other time who was super awesome and was taking notes the first time we taught her is still super awesome. She has such a sincere desire to learn more about the gospel and is truly looking for a change in her life. She always has great questions and our visits with her are my favorite part of my mission so far. She's come to church twice now. She was late and missed the sacrament both times but at least she was there! This past weekend we visited her on Saturday and she was telling us about how she was making sure to get all of her laundry and her work done that day so that she would have Sunday free to go to church. Not even the members do that! That's a really big deal here. She's already planning ahead and making small sacrifices to make it to church. Without us asking her! Nobody does that! She's the best. She was telling us one day about how she was in a really bad mood and then started reading the Book of Mormon and felt this sense of calm and comfort come over her, and that she feels the same way when we come to visit. She always tells us about how she wants to be able to have the peace and joy that she sees in us in her life. One day we were teaching her and she asked us if we can interpret dreams, which is kind of weird but she has such a strong desire to learn. Then she told us that she had dreamed that she got baptized into the church, and that she had another dream that she couldn't really remember that well other than that it had to do with God and it was something really beautiful and comforting. Then yesterday at church the coolest thing happened. We were in Sunday school in the class for recent converts and investigators, and Elder Despain was teaching it. She wanted to learn more about prophets so that's what Elder D decided to teach. Then near the end of the lesson she randomly asked about what that table with the white cloth over it in the chapel was. She got to church late so she hadn't seen the sacrament. Then she told us she was asking because she had a dream about it, and in the dream there were all these young men dressed in white in a line passing something around... wait, what?!? She had a dream about the sacrament, and she's never even seen it! We've hardly talked about it with her either. She doesn't even know anything about it. God is communicating to her through her dreams, and now we're trying to focus on teaching her how to recognize that she's receiving answers to her prayers and personal revelation. Especially through the peaceful feelings she gets when she reads and visits with us. So yeah, visiting with her is pretty much the highlight of my mission. She's so ready to come unto Christ and accept His gospel. We talked with one of her neighbors the other day who is a less active and she was talking to us about her and said something along the lines of "she's really progressing a lot isn't she? She's changing." Coolest thing ever. Seeing these people's lives change through application of the gospel is the greatest feeling in the world. I'm seeing and experiencing miracles basically every day. Life is crazy these days.

I'm not really sure what else to say. Other than that we've just been... working hard. Always looking for more opportunities to serve. I'm getting better at speaking and understanding the language, but it's still hard. Maybe someday I'll get it. Oh yeah! Guess who can roll his R's now!... Still not me! Haha. Not even a little.

Please accept the attached picture as my Christmas present from me to all of you this year. Especially to Claire, mi mejor amiga! I can't send anything home partially because it's expensive and a huge hassle, but mostly because I don't have anything to send you guys. Haha. Sorry. But I put two days of effort into this Etch a Sketch picture. And by two days I meant over the course of two days I put like twenty minutes into this. I'm determined to become an Etch a Sketch master by the end of my mission. But I've been out here for over three months and I've probably only put like an hour and a half total into practicing.

Well, I love you guys a whole lot. I'm really sad that I can't be home to celebrate Christmas with you guys, but make sure to have a fun time without me anyway. I'll tell you about my Christmas experience next week. Thanks for being the best family I've ever had in my life!...  (also the worst)

Haha, bye-bye

-Elder Emslay (One of the various ways my name is pronounced these days)

Monday, December 12, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words! Christmas came early for us--we got 25 pictures from Victor today!

I think I'm going to spend my whole time sending pictures this week, and it goes slow so I probably won't be able to talk about much else. I hope I can send a good amount though. I'll try!

By the way, apparently if you're going to send me packages you should send them in big envelopes instead of boxes, because for whatever reason it's way harder for me to get the package if it's in a box. I don't know. I don't understand the mail. I know I have one package waiting for me, but still I don't know about the other one you sent. Mail is super confusing.


Here are some of our favorites (his comments included): 

"Elder Paredes and I at the Lima Temple."

"Cathedral (in Lima) we went to... a super long time ago."

"My cool district in Lima."


"First fast food in forever."

"Elder Despain (his current companion) and I! Like literally two seconds after meeting each other.  Also guy making a creepy face in the background."

"The only part of Pacasmayo that has grass or trees.  I miss plants."

That's it for now!  You can see all the rest of the pictures he sent (full-sized) by clicking on the photo slideshow! Enjoy!

--Victor's Mom

Monday, December 5, 2011

The good and the bad from Pacasmayo...


Ahh, e-mail time. I never know what to talk about in my e-mails these days. Send me more questions and I'll try to answer them.

The work is going pretty well here. This past week we met some really great people who we think are going to progress a lot. We met this one lady who's super awesome. We walked by her one day and said good afternoon and then later we ran into her at a little shop (well, every shop is little) and set up an appointment to visit with her. We went to see her on... Friday? I dunno what day. But we showed up and she was so super ready to hear our message! Here's how awesome she was: she was taking notes while we were teaching her. Every time we used a scripture from the bible she wrote down the reference so that she could go back and re-read and study it again after we left. She was all ready with tons of great questions and she really had such a strong desire to learn more about the gospel. She told us over and over again that we are such good examples being out here for two years to talk to people about Christ, and that missionaries always look so happy, and she really wanted to find out how she could have that happiness in her life. Obviously that just made me happier. The spirit was so strong during our lesson. I taught better than I ever had before. I spoke almost as much as Elder Despain! Haha. That's a big deal for me. There are some lessons where I say almost nothing. We asked her to come to church with us on Sunday, and she said she would. And we asked her to pray about our message to find out for herself if it was true, and if Joseph Smith really was a prophet, by receiving an answer from her Heavenly Father. She said she would pray, but she told us she already believed that he was a prophet. She definitely felt the spirit too. One of the main problems we have here is that the people don't keep their commitments. They forget to read their scriptures, they don't go to church when they say they will, etc... but on Sunday she came to church!! I think she had a really good experience and we can't wait to go back and teach her again. We found some other good people too, but teaching her was probably the best experience of my mission so far.

We've also had some really weird things happen. Like the other day we went to teach one of our investigators, and there was another old lady there with her. So we were talking with this lady, and we mentioned that we live right down the street in the room above Mama Nena's house, and this lady starting telling us about how we need to find another place to live because Mama Nena is evil. Uhh, okay. So we talk to her a little more and say a prayer, and after we pray Elder Despain asks her how she felt about the prayer, which is something we ask fairly frequently. Tears starting streaming down her face as she told us... how bad it made her feel... What the heck? So she thinks Mama Nena is evil, and praying makes her feel so bad that it brings her to tears. Okay. She was crazy. Anyways, after that we went to an appointment, only to find that the lady we were supposed to be meeting with was incredibly drunk. She tried for like five minutes to try to get us to come upstairs as we tried to tell her over and over that we'd come back another day. Actually, we were pretty much yelling, because she was blasting music sooo freaking loud this whole time. Her speakers were blown, the house was a wreck, we could barely hear her and she could barely talk. I felt like at any moment I was going to get stabbed or killed. So we finally just sort of left. Thank goodness. Bad experience! I hate alcohol so much!! The other week we had an appointment with a lady and we got there to find out she was gone to talk to the police because her husband got drunk and starting abusing her and smashed all the windows and destroyed the front door. Why?! I see all the time how alcohol is ruining people's lives down here. It's really sad, and it really sucks for us. Saturdays and Sundays are horrible for proselyting because everyone is drunk. Just stop drinking!! It's awful.

Oh yeah, we still don't have running water. So that's fun. I've showered... twice since the last time I e-mailed. And by "shower" I mean cleaned my body by pouring buckets of water all over myself. I should shower every day but it's not even worth it. We're hopefully getting running water sometime this week. It sure is fun to manually fill up our toilet with water all the time.

Today our zone met up in Pacasmayo, and we all went to the ocean together. Nice! Except there is no beach. The whole time I was thinking about how I wished I was at Seaside or Newport Beach or something. But it was still nice to go to the ocean. Then we walked about a half hour to an abandoned town on the coast, which was kind of awesome. We got to walk through the abandoned buildings and everything. It was fun. I felt like I was in Resident Evil 5 the whole time. Resident Evil 5 because it was during the day and not scary. It was sweet though. And from there we walked a bit more to the ruins of an ancient city. Actually it wasn't really ruins, it was like huge piles of dirt where buildings used to be. They were made of mud so after all these years they've basically disintegrated into nothing. It was kinda neat though. On the way there we walked by some wild dogs who I was pretty sure were going to kill us. Especially since I still felt like Resident Evil and if there’s one thing I've learned from Resident Evil, it's that dogs are the scariest thing in the world and they will kill you. Haha. But they didn't. But to add on to that there were human bones scattered all over the place. Spooky.

Anyway, that's some of my experiences. How is this real life? How?! This is still so weird to me. I think one of these weeks I'm going to sacrifice an e-mail to just send you guys a ton of pictures instead. I hope that's okay. I dunno when though.

Oh yeah, I don't know if I'm getting your packages. I've only gotten the two identical ones that came in big envelopes. I never got the first one you sent me forever ago, and I didn't get the other one you sent me either. Tomorrow we get mail though so I'll see what happens and try to figure out what the deal is. Elder Despain said it took him five weeks to get a package from his family once.

That's about it for now. I'm still surviving out here. The Spanish is coming along slowly, but I'm getting better every day little by little. You guys are cool.

-Elder Victor

Monday, November 28, 2011

More News From Pacasmayo!

Hola everyone!

I hope you had a super awesome Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving forgot to exist down here. Sad time. I was thinking about last Thanksgiving and how awesome it was. Mainly I remember sitting on my bed in my not-bedroom with Hunter playing video games and listening to lots of music while consuming huge amounts of chips and Mountain Dew. Ahh... I miss it! And Red Robin with all of my amigos. So fun! Lots of awesome stuff happened that week. This Thanksgiving I taught people about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, so it wasn't so bad. Anyway, now that Thanksgiving is over that means the Christmas music can start. None of this "Christmas starts the day after Halloween" business. Now it's a-okay though. I sure miss my non-mission appropriate Christmas songs written by such hit bands as Saosin, blink-182, A Day to Remember, New Found Glory, Jimmy Eat World... Breathe Carolina... (best one). So have a fun Christmas time starting now. I'm enjoying a nice Summer over here.

So, Pacasmayo is pretty awesome. I really really like it here. We're like a ten minute walk from the ocean. But there's no beach. Pacasmayo is a small city in the middle of a desert. There is nothing surrounding us. We get around either by walking (we walk so much) or by these things called motos which are basically motorcycles in the front and carriages in the back that we sit in. Basically a mix between motorcycles, trikes, and a primitive kind of car. That description is bad but whatever. You just flag one down and they take you where you wanna go for the low price of only 1.5 soles! But wait! There's more!! If it's especially far away it costs 2 soles! Motos are pretty sweet. One thing that's causing me problems is the extreme lack of bathrooms in this town. I've almost peed my pants like 1000 times! Also garbage cans of any form are a rarity. Also Carl's Jr. doesn't exist here. But by far the biggest problem is the no bathrooms. That causes me great pain. In order, the problems are 1. No Bathrooms, 2. No Carl's Jr., and 3. No Garbage Cans. Other than that this place pretty much rules.

We're moving today. We live like 10 minutes away from Mama Nena which is apparently a problem. So we're moving in to a room above her house. So that will make eating more convenient... but it will make literally everything else more inconvenient. Worse location, smaller room. I dunno. It doesn't make sense to me. But we're moving. This city has a lot of little monuments scattered around all over the place. One of them is called "La Plaza del Niño," or, as I like to call it, "naked little boy wrestling a bird on top of some dolphins." Maybe you can find a picture of it online. I dunno. My new room is in that square.

So, we never ended up building a house. We helped a family move instead. Move from a house made of wooden poles and tarps to a house made of adobe bricks, which is what kind of hose we were gonna help build. We still probably will sometime. I hope! Service is my favorite part of the mish. We focus a lot of less-active and inactive members here because the activity rate in the branch is like 10%. Yesterday 118 people showed up to church though, which is awesome for us! That's the most this branch has had attend in a long time. So things are looking up! We're working hard out here. So hopefully we'll see some results.

The other day we were at Mama Nena's for dinner, and her daughter's family was all there because her son-in-law was getting ready to leave to work in the mines, which requires him to leave his family for months at a time. Elder Despain gave him a blessing, and by the end the entire family was in tears. He was leaving for one month, and everyone was so sad. They love each other so much. It made me think about my family and how much I love and miss them, and how I won't get to see them for two years... It makes me sad, but I'm out here to teach people that they can be with their families forever, and help them get to that point. It's so worth it. A couple days ago some members of the branch were in Lima to go to the temple. Lima is 14 hours away so going to the temple is a big sacrifice for these people. Among them was Mama Nena, and her husband Papi Alberto (they're basically our parents here...). They got sealed together for time and all eternity in the temple. Coolest thing in the world. So did two other couples. Yesterday in sacrament meeting the branch president had the three couples come up to the pulpit and briefly share their experiences with us. As they explained how amazing their experiences were and how huge of a blessing it was there we were all in tears, or close to it. Papi Alberto was crying as he spoke about how incredible the experience was and how he hopes someday the rest of his family can be sealed too. It was really touching. Families are so important. The most important part of the message we have to share with people here is that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us with a perfect love, and that he has provided a way for us to be together with our families forever. To be married without the "until death do you part" disclaimer. Obviously we teach a lot more than that, but to me that's absolutely the most important thing. I know I will be together with my family for eternity, and that is such an incredible blessing, and I'm grateful for the chance I have to share that with the people of Peru.

Being a missionary is really hard work. Being thrust into a foreign country where you're expected to teach the people in a language you don't even know is really tough. This past week I realized how much more respect I have for Mom now, because I think about how hard this is, and then I realize that she did this exact same thing years ago. I always appreciated that before, but now that I'm out here doing it I realize how hard she had to work and the kinds of challenges she had to face. She had to teach in the same language in Spain, which was probably even harder than here. Whenever I remind myself that Mom went through this exact same thing it helps me keep going. All of the sudden I have so much more respect for her. And more respect for my future wife! haHA! But for realz. The other day I was thinking that I have friends out serving missions in at least 13 different countries all across the world right now. Off the top of my head I have friends serving in Russia, Korea, the Phillipines, Brazil, The United States, Germany, Paraguay, Mexico, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Chile, and here in Peru. So many people I know were willing to give two years or 18 months of their lives to serve the Lord, and now they're all over the world helping people. So awesome. It's an honor to be out here serving with them.

Anyway, I gotta go finish moving! As we were moving stuff, we discovered that we've been living with a nice little family of cockroaches this whole time. And by little, I mean big. We found at least 10 in our room. Yikes! The room we're moving into doesn't have working water yet. So we can't wash our hands, and we can't shower. This'll be an adventure! Every day's some kind of adventure. I can never thank you enough for all your support. You guys keep me going. I'll try to do a little good in the world this week. Love you guys!

-Elder Hemsley

Monday, November 21, 2011

"My first area is...Pacasmayo!!"

Hello hello!

It's been almost two weeks without a p-day. Oh goodness. Sorry 'bout that! Not my fault. This keyboard is horribly broken and typing is super hard right now. yikes.

So... I'm for realz a missionary now! My first area is... Pacasmayo!! This place is super awesome HOLYCRAPIT'SREALLY HARDTO TYPE RIGHTNOW UGH. Look it up online or something. I can't do it justice and right now typing is incredibly frustrating. It's the only area of our mission on the coast that has missionaries, so that kind of rules. It never really gets that hot here because of that. My first companion and trainer is Elder Despain. Guess where he's from?... Salt Lake City. lolz. He's probably Mormon. I'm the only new North American missionary to get a North American trainer. It sure makes learning the language a lot less stressful. He's super awesome. I couldn't be happier about having him as my companion! I'll be here in Pacasmayo for at least three months. New missionaries are with their trainers for two transfers. This place is so cool though! Way more awesome than Lima. I almost just wish I was  gonna be here for the whole two years. Being here is unreal. Seriously all the time I'm just thinking to myself that I can't believe a place like this actually exists. It literally doesn't feel like real life. And different sections of the city are so different from each other! We live in a pretty nice area. But there are areas full of houses made of tarps and bamboo and stuff and it's so eye opening. I think tonight we're going to go help a family build their house. How freaking cool is that? Maybe I'll tell you about it next week.

Guess what I did for the first time in two months yesterday?... I went to church!!  Finally!! I missed being in a ward or a branch so much. MTC church was super lame. Our branch here seems really awesome. Yesterday was the primary program so that was fun. Oh yeah, also Elder Despain and I were asked to bless the sacrament. Of course that would happen on my first Sunday! It was my first time blessing it in forever, and my first time ever doing it in Spanish. I had to do it twice because I s'pose I messed up the first time. Sounded good to me. But I don't know how it's supposed to sound. The kids in our branch (there are a lot of them) all love us missionaries. They're so funny. They love talking to us and asking us how to say things in English. Mucho fun.

We have a lady who makes all our meals for us here. Three meals a day. I sure love not cooking! We can't cook anyway because we don't have a kitchen. Her name is Mama Nena and she's the best. Even though it's hard for me to understand her. There are some people   here who I can understand fairly well, some who I struggle understanding, and others who I can't understand at all. I'm improving every day though, so that's what's important! The people here are generally super nice. We've had a lot of good exeperiences talking to people and teaching them. We have some super awesome investigators too that I think we're really helping. I hope we are. I love them.

So a lil' bit of bad news. Mail here sucks even worse than it did at the MTC. I still get it once a week (tuesdays) and mailing it is a million times more frustrating than before. We get to send two letters for free through the church a month...TWO. And the rest cost over 7 sols each to mail. Which is like three dollars or something. Plus, I have less time to write letters now because p-days are busier... so... I'm gonna have to take back my promise that I'll respond to every letter I get. It's not realistic anymore. Each week I'll just have to pick a couple people to respond to. Sorry! I really want to write you all, but I don't have the time, or the money to do it. However this doesn't mean I want less letters, just so you know. Haha. It'll be like this for the rest of my mission, so that's too bad.

Life as a missionary is kind of awesome. Really tiring, but not horribly difficult. I sure love going to bed every night though. I'm having the coolest experiences ever and growing so much closer to our Father and our Savior and learning to love the people of Peru so much. God is always listening to and answering my prayers. I'm in good hands out here. It's the greatest thing ever to know I have a Father in Heaven I can turn to at literally any moment and ask for help or comfort from. And He always gives it to me.

Yikes I don't really know what else to say. There's so much to tell but you and I are just gonna have to accept the fact that you're not gonna know about every detail of my mission in Peru. I'll have eight years to tell you about my experiences when I get home.  And I say that because there's this disease you can get here that basically does nothing except ten years later your heart basically explodes. I'll probably get that I'm assuming. But I got ten more years so no big deal. Psh.

Oh yeah, I saw a really cool thing the other day. Some kid had a Spider-man 4 backpack... Spider-man 4. Y'know, that really great movie THAT DOESN'T EXIST. Haha. I was kinda jealous. P.S. Thanks for the Yellowcard vinyl box set! I can't wait to listen to it (and see it) in two years!! For some reason I was thinking about  that a lot yesterday... I like records.

Soo... I gotta go. Someday maybe I'll send you pictures. I dunno how. Maybe I won't. I haven't taken any since I've been here but I have a lot more of the MTC.

I miss you lots! I think about you guys all the time. But I know there is literally nothing more important that I could be doing right now. This is the best thing in the world that I could be doing for myself, and for my family, and for my friends. I know that's true. Missions are the coolest. I wish it was something everyone had the chance to experience. I love you tons! Stay awesome. Until next week :)

I can't believe this is real... 

-Elder "I really REALLY hate this keyboard more than almost anything else on the planet" Hemsley

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Looking for Addresses!

Victor realized that he got to Peru without the mailing addresses of most of his friends. He asked me to ask his friends to e-mail me ( their mailing addresses so he can keep in touch (although he says he only gets a chance to write if he finds some extra time on his P-day).  Also, if you write or have written to him, he says he will respond to each letter he receives, even if it takes a little while...

Victor's Mom

Just one more week at the Peru MTC!

Hoy Fam!

Hey guess what? Next week I'll be in Chiclayo!! Not a moment too soon either. This MTC is taking its toll on my mental well-being. If I had to stay much longer I would go completely insane. As of right now I'm only partially insane and I don't think the effects are permanent yet, so if I leave soon I should be good.

Not a whole lot to say about this past week. Last Wednesday was the best mail day ever! I got so much mail I didn't have time to write back to all of you. I wrote eleven letters and they started getting pretty short because I had like no time to write them. I go so much mail that my district was jealous of me for hogging all the mail. Go Team Hemsley! You all rule. If you wrote me like two or three weeks ago, then expect a reply from me in like a week or two. This mail thing isn't super high-speed.

I got a lot of mail today too but I haven't had time to read it all yet because I was at immigration all morning and at the temple until now. Thanks for the birthday wishes though! I haven't read them all but it means a ton! I don't have all the addresses of people who wished me a happy birthday so I can't write back to them all. Can I get those? K thx. I'm super bummed that today was the last time I'll get to go to the temple for the rest of my mission. I never really appreciated the temple that much until last week, and now I'm really, really going to miss it a ton. Last week I just had a super spiritual experience, and this week I did as well. I wanna go back! Anywayz, the temple kind of rules.

The other night I was talking to Elder O'Niel, who was in my district my first three weeks here (by the way, that district was sorta kinda a lot better than my current one) and we found out that we think we were in the same Mission Prep class last Fall. So that's kinda weird mixed with a little bit of awesome. We decided it was probably for the best that we didn't become friends because our GPAs probably would have dropped a whole number. Haha. I can't wait to get back to school! Espesh after meeting all these other people in these MTCs who are also going there. And especially because Hunter will be there!!! Hunter being there automatically makes school 57 times more fun. So stoked! And Bryn too. Bryn, I know you don't wanna go there, but you're totally going. Jus' saying. And you're gonna love it. And you're also gonna get arrested for throwing snowballs.

Uh, thanks for keepíng me updated with random facts about my friends! Haha. Toffer got an internship at Disneyworld?! That's the coolest thing ever!! Heads up to everyone, my mother is spying on you for me via my Facebook, so nothing you do can be kept secret from me. Nothing.

So... Tomorrow is my birthday. I'm going to be twenty freaking years old. TWENTY. Like... two decades. Whoa. So since I'm turning 20 that means I only have one year left of my mission, right? Because I was always under the impression that when I turned 21 I was immediately going home. Pretty sure that's happening. Pretty sure. Also that means on Friday the new Angels & Airwaves album was supposedly supposed to be released. But who knows because based on Tom DeLonge's track record it probably won't be out until after I get home. Didja know that three of my top four favorite bands have all released albums since I've been on my mission? How no fair is that? Super no fair is how no far. Speaking of that, someone should write me and tell me if the Blinkumentary ever came out. I was supposed to be watching that in Summer of 2010. And while I'm having people update me on random things, there's something else I really have to know... Did they really change Obi-wan's Krayt Dragon scream to that super ridiculous/hilarious scream in the bluray version of A New Hope?? I can't wait two years to find out that that's real. Somebody must tell me. It's still funny to me in my brain.

Okay, that was mega off topic. Wanna get an idea of what Lima is like? Okay, picture in your mind the sound of a car alarm going off... now picture like three or four car alarms going off at the same time, and maybe an ambulance or fire truck siren going off too... That's what Lima sounds like all the time. Well... more like 99% of the time, and right now is that 1% when I can't hear that. But yeah, it's sorta ridic.

I don't even know what else to say!! Since I've been here I've been stung by a bee and bitten by a mosquito. I'm pretty sure every single bug here automatically kills you when it stings/bites you, so I'm double dead. I am so going to die before I get home. So sorry, I'll never see any of you ever again. Maybe.

Hey, check out this other video. I saw it in Provo and I really like it a whole lot. I'm mainly showing this to you for Sam, because he just got the Aaronic Priesthood. It's a story from Jeffrey R. Holland (who is basically my favorite speaker of all time) about a boy who realized he had to use his priesthood for the first time ever when another boy got struck by lightning at a football practice. Word on the street is Sam sorta likes football so this is double for him:

That story really got to me when I first saw it. Sam, I know you only got the Aaronic Priesthood, but you're being prepared for something much greater. I never fully understood or appreciated the priesthood power I held until... I don't even know when. Recently. You have an amazing gift, and you're going to be able to use it to change lives. Don't ever forget that! It was through the Aaronic Priesthood that I was able to baptize you, and that was one of the most special experiences I've ever had. The Priesthood is one of the greatest blessings we have on this earth, and I'm super proud of you for being worthy to receive it. I miss you tons little bro. Always remember how special it is that you hold the Holy Priesthood of God. Hope you like the vid too.

Well, I'm not sure what else to say. I was told that I was 1.82 meters tall today. 1.82... Seriously every single thing, including Preach My Gospel, is sending me subliminal messages about blink-182. Someday I will once again get to listen to that beautiful music. Also, I need like infinity more yellow highlighters. I've burned through both the ones you gave me, and I'm showing no signs of slowing down. Could you send more refills to Chiclayo?... like... a LOT more.

Alright, I guess that's it for this week. I'm almost there. I'm so ready to get out there and start doing real missionary work!! I am so incredibly excited it's ridiculous. Please keep me in your prayers because this is the scariest thing I've ever done in my life!... and that was an intentional Angels & Airwaves reference... anyway, clearly I'm slipping into madness at this point. This e-mail has been all over the place. You're all always in my thoughts and in my prayers. Friends and family. You mean the world to me and I hope I'm able to bless your lives in one way or another. I love you all so much!!

Okay bye, I'm gonna go bullseye some womprats in my T-16.

-Elder Hemsley

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

He Didn't Even Mention the Earthquake--It Couldn't Have Been Too Bad!

Hello United States!

Today is day 50 of my mission!! Wow!! Only 7584373793893932.4 days left! Actually, I'm not counting down. But I am counting up. Day 50. Woo! I got stuck with the earliest e-mail time again. This is slightly torturous, except for the fact that I look forward to e-mailing you guys all week long! I've just given up all hope of ever feeling well rested for the next two years of my life.

Anywho, interesting week. Last Wednesday after I e-mailed you we got to leave and go out on a tour of Lima for the day! It was exactly what I needed. So fun! It was such a nice sunny day too which is rare! The bus drive alone was fun just because we got to see a lot of the city. Lima is gigantic. The first thing we did was we went on a tour of some cathedral or something. It was sort of cool. Kind of boring though. Actually super boring. Until we went into the catacombs that were full of bones and skulls and I felt like I was in Resident Evil or something. To my disappointment not a single zombie tried to attack us. That would have made my day! But that part was really cool. We weren't allowed to take pictures though, and I really wanted to. So many dead body parts scattered all over the place. lolz

After that we went to a little market area that was kind of fun. I didn't buy anything though. I'm waiting 'til I get to Chiclayo, but it was fun. Then President Cavanaugh treated us all to some freaking delicious churros and then let us go free to explore for a while. We were gonna go to McDonald's but we went to a place called Bemobo's (... really? Bembo's?) instead. It was alright, but it's no McD's. P.S.: It's really hard to find Mountain Dew here. Me and about ten other Elders are all on constant lookout for Dew. Our teachers said it exists here, but apparently it's not very common. No fair! Anyway, that was prob the best day of my mission so far.

I have a new Latin companion now! His name is Elder Gardea and he's from Chihuahua Mexico. He's 19, he's been a member of the church his entire life, he's the first of his siblings to serve a mission, and he's super skinny. Sounds familiar, eh? He's awesome! A little more shy and quiet than Elder Paredes, but he's super cool. I love him! When this new group of Latinos came in I felt so good because I was able to initiate and carry on conversations confortably with all of them. That pretty much blew my mind and made me feel so good because I was sort of feeling like I wasn't learning the language very quickly anymore. Wrong! In three weeks I went from barely being able to speak to people here, to starting conversations with them, and they understand me! All the people here are so nice. I always apologize that I can't speak very well but they're always like ''No! You speak fine! I understand you!'' so that makes me feel really good.

Yesterday I got to meet my mission president, President Risso. We only got to talk to him for about 2.5 seconds, but he seems really awesome! I still don't know if he can speak English...

Hmm, what else... No proselyting last weekend. Don't know if we're going this weekend or not. I never know what's going on here! Nobody does. But in two weeks I'll finally be out there doing missionary work for realz. I can't wait!! I'm tired of teaching fake investigators. I can't wait to go out there and start seeing real progress and start seeing real changes happen in people's lives. It's going to be the coolest thing in the world. Also, I miss going to real church. MTC church is weird because it doesn't really feel like we're at church. I feel like I haven't been to church since Sep 11th when I gave my farewell talk!... and James and Reyn and Connor and Shel were there and it was Aw3x0me City.

There's this video I've watched probably about 20 kajillion times since I've been out on my mission. It's just a short video with clips of things every Latter-day prophet has said from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson. I don't know why, but I really like it a lot. Especially when it get's to my good friend Gordon B. Hinckley. What he says gets to me every time! I don't know why I love it so much. He talks about prayer, and prayer has been something super important to me these past two months or so. Prayer is truly one of the greatest blessings we have. Go watch!:

Talking to our Heavenly Father is such an amazing privilege, and we can do it at any time, and at any place. I pray all the time, and it's so comforting to know that even though I'm a million miles away from all of you, Heavenly Father is still with me wherever I go, and he'll always be there. Getting an answer to one of your prayers is one of the best experiences you can have. I love prayer! And I love my Father in Heaven so much. I'm so thankful for this chance I get to dedicated two years of my life to serving Him.

Well, I don't have much else to say that I can think of at the moment, other than I MISS YOU SO MUCH! I hope Bryn had a super duper birthday. I don't like missing all of these important events! But it's okay, I'll be back someday.

This is super random but I've been meaning to mention it ever since like the first week of my mission. Elder Barton, who was in my district in Provo, said he knows some Hemsley's in Preston Idaho. I told him we're probably related but that I've never met another Hemsley in my entire life. Haha. Do you guys know them?

Alrighty, I'm running out of time. Going to the Temple in like 20 minutes, and then I get a nice p-day. I'm excited!

By the way, if you're mailing me, don't send things to the MTC anymore. They say not to mail us past our three week mark because we might be gone by the time the mail gets here. Start mailing to the mission home in Chiclayo! That's where mail will go for the rest of my mission. Easy! I don't have the address right now, but you do, I hope.

Okay, I love and miss you a ton!! I'm trying hard to be a good example to all of you and to make you proud. I'm trying really hard.

Elder Hemsley

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another week, another letter!

Hello everybody in the world!

Happy birthday Keegan! It's the best time of the yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrakjsdñfklajsñdklfjaklñsdfasd. Whoa I didn't even know I could type these ññññññññ. Also happy birthday Okeefe yesterday, and Tyler last Sunday! I don't actually remember everyone in the world's birthday, so don't expect happy birthday shoutouts from me ever. I know Hunter's birthday was sometime this month. So happy late birthday dewd! And happy birthday Bryn on Friday! Goodness, October is ridiculous.

For some reason we have to e-mail in the morning today, so I can't even tell you about what I did on p-day today because I haven't done it yet. This place is confusing.

Anywayz, not much has really happened since last time. That's kind of a lie. We did go proselyting for five hours on Saturday. That went really well. Started out really slow. Elder Paredes and I started out in a really poor area (huge culture shock all over again) where we really didn't get any success. We were up on a really steep hill in the middle of Lima with super long steep staircases going uphill between the houses. These houses didn't even have real roofs on them. They were made of cardboard and whatever else they could find. I also had a tough time trying to figure out what was a house and what wasn't. A lot of the time the building was both the family's house and their family store. We hardly got to talk to anyone there. We made our way down the hill to a more wealthy area with houses that actually looked like houses. We talked to a bunch of people down there. We didn't get into any houses, but we talked to a lot of people. Probably the best experience of the day was when we approached a woman at the park. It was later in the day so I was feeling a little more comfortable with my Spanish and everything. Elder Paredes still led the conversation, but I was able to speak more than usual. This lady was very receptive to what we had to say. We told her where the church was and when it starts and she told us she'd go on Sunday (the next day). Partway through a man walked up and joined her. I don't know if he was her husband or what, I totally missed that. He came right about when we were talking about when church was and he said he couldn't go because he had work. As we spoke to them more he was basically like ''wait... what time is your church at again?'' He was getting interested. I spoke to them and explained that I'm still learning the language, and they pretty much said it was fine and that they could understand me, and I bore my testimony about prayer and the scriptures and explained that I'm in Peru because these things have blessed my life and I want to share them with the whole world. These people were awesome. Elder Paredes gave the lady a Book of Mormon and she reassured us that she promised she would be at church the next day. I think the man wanted to too but he didn't say he'd for sure be there. They both seemed touched that we would want to invite them to come to our church. So that was an awesome experience.

We also spoke to a guy who was working in his bakery/store (we were hungry and wanted bread) and he was really interested in what we had to say too. So interested that he was being distracted from helping customers, which I felt kind of bad about, but it was a good talk. haha. He was interested in coming to church too.

Those were the highlights. We spoke to a lot of people. On Monday night Elder Paredes flew off to Mexico. I miss that guy! He's going to change so many lives. On Sunday he was talking about how he was going to Mexico so soon and he was so excited he was almost in tears. He has such a strong desire to go spread the gospel to the world. He's one of the best examples I've ever had. He's going to do amazing things out there in Mexico. I'm so blessed to have had him as a companion.

We get new Latin companions tomorrow or late tonight or something. I dunno. I never know what's going on here.

I finished the Book of Mormon on Sunday! Took me 18 days. Wow! I got a ton out of it. I thought the 19 day challenge was kind of unrealistic (actually I still do, because I was reading the Book of Mormon at times when I wasn't supposed to. Which by the way, it sounds really stupid to me that there's ever a time when we aren't supposed to be reading it.) but I did it and I really enjoyed it. Also I burned through two yellow highlighters and now I need a new one or ten. I'm reading the Pearl of Great Price next and then the New Testament. So that's cool I s'pose.

For some reason Elder Marker and I are getting moved to a new district. We're the only ones leaving our district and we are not happy about it. Why??! I've given up on trying to make sense of the things that happen here.

Congrats on Sam becoming a Deacon and Dad getting called to the High Council! High Council sounds like something from Star Wars so that makes it especially cool. Also the hymn Battle Hymn of the Republic always always always reminds me of Star Wars just because of the title. Random.

Thanks for sending me Mitchell's and Porter's letters! I love reading them. Good to hear mission experiences from other people I know. Love it.

So, apparently back home I had this habit of writing songs that were totally fictional or at least exaggerated truth and then later on in my life what I wrote about comes true. The whole song ''Game Over: Continue?'' was a totally made up story that more or less really happened to me later in my life. In the song ''Looking Back'' there's a line that goes ''now I just can't wait until I fall asleep, because in every dream I'm with you.'' That line is basically exactly how I feel now about all of you guys back home. I literally can't wait to get to sleep at night after a long day because it means I have a chance to be with my family and friends again in my dreams. It's weird, it's like I can relate really well to my own lyrics or something. Odd. Next thing you know I'm going to be dating a 500 pound 23 year old girl, or my horse is going to get shot and killed by dirty bandits, or it's really going to be Keegan's birthday or something (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!?!?!?!!!!1). Anyway, I really miss writing and playing music a whole lot.

Well, I gotta go now. I definitely had more to say but I can't remember what it was and also I have 29 seconds of e-mail left. I love you all mucho! I miss you tons and I can't wait to e-mail again next week. buh-bye!

Your best friend in the whole entire world,
-Elder Victor

Friday, October 21, 2011

A new e-mail from Peru...finally!

Sorry I didn't e-mail on Wednesday! Our p-day got switched to Friday for just this week, but we found out about it on Monday and never had a chance to let our families know. Lame. The schedule here is incredibly frustrating. It's always changes. They require us to write down the schedule for the next day in our planners every night, but it's stupid because 95% of the time the schedule is wrong, and so basically we never really know what we're supposed to be doing. It bothers our teachers too. I don't get why it's so unorganized here. bleh. So, sorry about that. I can guarantee that I would never forget to e-mail you guys, so if I ever don't e-mail you on my p-day it was because for some reason I wasn't able to. Next week it'll be on Wednesday again (at least that's the plan so far, but I never know).

I got mail today!!! FINALLY! Thanks family! I got mail basically every single day in Provo, and up until today I had only got one piece of mail the entire time I've been here. That change is no bueno. Mail is frustrating. It's weird too that every letter I get is like at least nine days old. I'll try to reply to as many as I can, but it's weird because you'll get them like a month after you wrote me. Odd. But it's all good. It felt so good to finally read some letters, even if they were all asking me questions I already answered in my e-mail last week because they're so old!

So is my lil' bro a priesthood holder yet? It was pretty frustrating to not be able to talk to him on his birthday or find out if we was ordained a Deacon this Sunday. Hope your birthday was awesome Sam! Sorry I can't send presents. I'll still be in the MTC on my birthday and I won't be able to get any presents either. Sad time!

K, this e-mail is sounding a little too depressing for how not-depressed I'm feeling. Sorry about that! There's not a whole lot new that's good. All that's new is kind of dumb so that's mostly what I have to share.

Good news time!

I'm getting a lot more comfortable with teaching in Spanish. Tuesday I was teaching with Elder Paredes and I spoke so much more than I ever had before, and we totally committed our "investigator" to be baptized! Haha. Win. Since then most of my lessons have been pretty good. Also, they other night Elder Marker and I were practicing teaching with two sisters in our district, Hermana Steimle and Hermana Sheridan, and after we finished teaching them Hermana Steimle told me that when I was bearing my testimony my Spanish got a lot better and she could feel the Spirit. How cool is that?!

So, kind of big news, last Saturday we went proselyting. For real. Elder Paredes and I went out into the streets and starting approaching real people and talking to them about the gospel. We split into small groups and Elder Paredes and I were the first in our group to talk with anyone. We spoke to a man who was out sweeping his driveway and had a conversation with him for about a half hour. It hit me so hard that I'm actually a missionary while we were talking to him! I didn't understand a whole lot, and I didn't say a whole lot. But wow! We talked to two guys who really didn't seem interested at all when we approached them, but by the end seemed very interested, asked us for pamphlets, and asked us where the church was and what time it was at. Cool! We also talked to one other guy, and I literally couldn't understand one single word that came out of his mouth. So that was interesting. It was a scary night! I actually felt pretty discouraged afterwards because of how much I struggled with the language, and how far out of my comfort zone approaching random people is (even in English), but that's what practice is for I s'pose. Tomorrow we're going out again. For five and a half hours. Whoa. I'm excited and super nervous. It'll be good though.

You know what scripture I love? D&C 75:24. Check it:

 24 Behold, I say unto you, that it is the duty of the church to assist in supporting the families of those, and also to support the families of those who are called and must needs be sent unto the world to proclaim the gospel unto the world.

Kinda my favorite thing right now. My family will be okay while I'm out here. I love that.

My teachers are great. We have three. Hermano Romero, Hermano Garcia, and Hermana Boza. They're all awesome. Hermano Romero and Garcia remind me of Mario and Luigi. Speaking of video games, the birds here sound like Zelda sound effects. Okay random. Elder Hickey brought up how awesome it will be when we get back and there will be two whole new seasons of Family Guy to watch. Haha. So true! Also two seasons of Clone Wars! It's gonna be so weird to get back and see what's new. It's like time traveling two years into the future, except it takes two years to get there.

Anyway, I gotta get going. I've been marking my scriptures like crazy these days. I highlight missionary scriptures in blue. I have a ton of them. Here's a few random ones. I don't even know which ones these are, so maybe they say the same thing, but whatever. Maybe I'll send a few each week.

Matthew 28:19-20
Mosiah 3:20
D&C 42:14

Maybe those are good ones. Who knows. Well, I gotta go! Thanks for everything! Hearing from you guys even if it's stupidly delayed was the best! I'll e-mail again on Wednesday! (hopefully)


(Ditder is what Jacqueline used to call Victor before she learned to pronounce his name correctly -- it sort of stuck as a nickname.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another letter from Peru...and PICTURES!

Hey family!... and other people.

Mom, I got both of your letters. Here's the thing. Mail sucks at the MTC. We only get mail on Wednesdays so I got both of your letters today. Try that experiment again when I get out into the field. Okay, if getting mail once a week isn't dumb enough, our mail we send doesn't get sent until Monday. So basically when you write me it will take more or less forever for you to get a response from me. It won't be like this for my entire mission, but this MTC is just a little messed up. Uh, also I still basically have no idea what the best way to mail me is, but if you have any idea post it on my blog or something for others to see.

Okay, I'm getting a little more used to things here! Including this Spanish keyboard. ¿See? Cool.

My companions are pretty awesome. Elder Marker is great and we get along real well. It's good to have someone to speak English with. Haha. My latino companion's name is Elder Paredes and he's basically the coolest person in the entire world! He hardly speaks any English, so it's still tough to communicate, but he is always so encouraging, supportive, and patient with me. He's probably one of the happiest people I've ever met. He's 21 years old and he's only been a member of the church for two years, and he's the only member of the church in his family. Wow!! He's a huge inspiration to me, since I've been a member my entire life and so has my family. I've always known I was going to serve a mission, and I've always been encouraged to do so my whole life. He had to make the choice to serve the Lord for two years as the only member of the church in his entire family sometime in these past two years. He is kind of amazing! My roommates are all real cool too. There are six of us total. They're all super nice.

Things are really different here than in Provo. One of the rules I've had to get used to is that we absolutely have to eat everything we take at lunch. I don't always like the food, so I have to be careful what I grab! Actually, today at lunch I broke that rule for the first time. I got some weird dessert thing that I just... hated... and I just couldn't make myself eat it. Elder Paredes said he didn't like it either so luckily it wasn't just me and my weird North American appetite. But yeah, that rule is kinda tough, since they serve us huge portions. Some of the missionaries here come from from such poor backgrounds that it breaks their hearts to see any food go to waste. It's kind of sad. But that's why the rule is there I think. Also we have to brush our teeth after every meal. I don't mind that rule so much. Clean teeth is probably a good thing. I'm not allowed to take pictures, except on p-day, and never inside the buildings. So that's weird. If we don't keep our rooms looking nice we have to run laps during gym time! haha. So far I haven't had to do that. We aren't allowed to have any food outside of the cafeteria either, which is annoying. In Provo I had massive stockpiles of food in my room. But weird rules aside, this place is pretty cool. I'm having a good time.

Lima is always cloudy. Well, actually, smoggy. The sun basically never shines. It's a little depressing, but Chiclayo won't be the same. I'm excited to get out there! We got to leave the MTC for the first time today to go to the temple and then to walk around the city for a little while. That's one thing that is waaaay better about this MTC than the one in Provo. Exploring the city was awesome! The endowment session in the temple was really weird in Spanish. But actually I had a headset that translated it into English so all was well. After the temple we went to a few stores. A bought a sweet red tie with a llama on it! Kind of awesome. However it only fuels my growing desire to watch The Emperor's New Groove that I've been wanted to watch ever since my first day here. Haha. I also bought a Book of Mormon in Quechuan (uh, I forgot how to spell that). I don't understand that language at all, I probably won't ever have to learn it, but some people speak it in this country and it just seemed like a cool thing to buy. Will I ever read it?... No. I actually sort of felt like a real missionary walking around in the city! Except we weren't talking to or teaching anyone. I bought a Pepsi though, so that was cool. I don't even really like Pepsi, but the drinks here are weird and I needed something familiar. Haha. I do like the juices here though. They take some getting used to. I didn't like them at first but they're pretty good.

Oh yeah! I never told you about my experience on the flight to Lima! When I got on the plane I sat next to this lady. After a few more missionaries walked past to get to their seats she asked me if I was with them and what church we belonged to... in Spanish. Uh, whoa. I don't speak that language! Anyway I was able to tell her the name of our church, and after I said we're Mormons she finally recognized us. I told her that we're going to Peru to teach people. As far as I can remember that's about as far as the conversation went, but that was my first experience having a conversation with someone who couldn't speak English! Accomplishment.

Teaching fake investigators here is waayyy harder than in Provo. When I'm teaching with Elder Paredes I can't understand the investigator or my companion! It's tough! They speak so fast. I'm getting a little better though. It's coming along.

I can't stop rubbing my head. Short hair is fun to rub. Except every day it feels a little less good as my hair gets a little bit longer. haha. I actually kinda like it. I mean, I think it looks stupid, but it's way easier to take care of since I literally don't have to do anything to it. I wouldn't mind if having hair like this was a mission rule. But I'm glad it's not. When I get home I'm growing my hair out to the floor.

Uhh... my e-mail time's just about up. The other day my roommate Elder Murillas gave me a little card that said something like ''17 Points of a True Church'' and it listed 17 things that a true church has to have based on from what the Bible says. It wasn't put together by our church, but apparently our church is the only one that fits all 17 criteria. It's really awesome actually! Look it up online if you can. I was gonna type up the reasons and accompanying scriptures but I don't have time. There's your next family home evening or home teaching lesson. Real cool.

Oh yeah, and that's awesome that you're gonna try to read the whole Book of Mormon by the end of the year! But I'm gonna one-up you. I'm reading the whole thing in 19 days. We're all challenged to, and I started the day I got here, and I'm ahead of schedule! So that's kind of awesome. I'm pretty sure I read it in a year last time.

Okay, I gotta go! I love you so much! Someday mail will be convenient again. Until then... still mail me.

-Elder Hemsley

Victor with Tyler and Gretchen (his cousins) just before he entered the MTC

Victor and Elder Peterson (his MTC companion) striking a pose in front of the Provo Temple

Victor studying hard at the Provo MTC

Victor with Elder Porter Long (who used to live in Eugene) at the Provo MTC

Elder Marker, Elder Saavedra, Elder Paredes (Victor's Peru MTC companion), and Victor with the standard Peru MTC buzz cuts!