Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yay! Another letter from Victor!


This computer is going kinda slow so we'll see what I can fit into this e-mail before I'm outta time.

I had like a zillion things to tell you and I know you had specific questions for me, but something happened on Tuesday that blew everything I had to say out of the water, so I'll start with that.
We had our first devotional on Tuesday. Everyone was getting all excited expecting to maybe hear the prophet, which was kind of funny. We waited to get into the gym where they hold devotionals for like an hour before they opened the doors and let us in. When the doors opened it was the craziest thing ever trying to get inside. Just a gigantic flood of people all trying to squeeze through a little entrance. I thought I was going to lose my nametag. Anyway, not the important thing. When we got in there we still had a long time before the devotional actually started. As I was sitting there I just looked across the room at all the hundreds of Elders and Sisters who were all preparing to serve the Lord for the next 18-24 months of their lives. It really touched me. I could feel the spirit before the meeting had even started. We sang three pre-devotional hymns just to pass the time before it started, and during the third hymn our speaker walked into the room and everbody stood up. I couldn't see who it was, but when he walked into the room I felt one of the strongest impressions of the spirit I've felt in my life. When we finished the hymn we all sat down and I finally got to see who it was. It was Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles!! I was so excited. He gave such a great talk on the Book of Mormon, full of fun little random facts about it, and he walked us through the October 2011 edition of the Ensign which is all about the Book of Mormon. Elder Nelson is a super funny guy, which I didn't know before. Being about 20 feet away from an Apostle of the Lord hearing him speak was such a great experience. The only thing I can compare it too, and this is probably a totally innapropriate comparison, is how I felt the two times I got to see my favorite band in the world, blink-182, in concert. A feeling of such great excitement and happiness, only paired with feeling the spirit which made it way better. (P.S., shoutout to all my awesome friends who went to see blink in Seattle with me about three weeks ago. Especially to Keegan for going so far out of his way to take me to Seaside afterward. Thanks for making that one of the best nights of my life!!) If I ever had to pick between seeing blink, which is one of my favorite things ever, and seeing a General Authority speak live, I'd pick the General Authority every time.

Anyway, the best part of the night was after the devotional. Our district met together for a devotional discussion with our branch president, President Hansen. President Hansen had us go around the room and share something we got out of the devotional. I was at the end of the room so I was going to go last. I was still on a spiritual high from the devotional, and the feeling got stronger and stronger and everyone shared their thoughts and I thought about what I was going to say. As I was thinking, something clicked in my head. People will feel different around you if you have a close relationship with God, and have strong faith and a strong testimony. The way I felt when Russell M. Nelson walked into the room, and I had no idea who it was or that he was an Apostle because I couldn't see him, was proof to me of that. When it got to be my turn I shared this with my district, and as I was speaking I felt the spirit so strong that I was having an incredibly hard time speaking and I was literally shaking. I think it was the strongest impression of the spirit I've ever felt in my entire life. After I finished sharing, I decided to try to write about how I was feeling at that exact moment. I was still shaking and it was difficult for me to write but here's what I wrote:

Amazingly strong spiritual high. The way I feel right this moment is the most undeniable proof to me that this gospel is true. I feel the spirit so strong it's difficult to talk and I'm literally shaking. I never want this feeling to go away. People will feel different just being around you in you're close with God and have strong faith and a strong testimony. The way I feel right now makes it so I could never deny the thruthfulness of this church. This is the absolute greatest feeling in the entire world.

After we had our closing prayer, President Hansen shook my hand and thanked me for my powerful words. I didn't know what to say but I told him that I felt really good. About a half hour later after our district had another meeting or personal study or something, we were all leaving to go back to our dorms. As I stepped out into the hall, Elder Hickey, one of the Elders in my district who's going to serve in Bolivia and is also going to the Lima MTC in two weeks, came up to me and shook my hand and thanked me for what I had to say, and that he really appreciated it. Since then two other people have told me how much they appreciated my testimony. That is so cool! I'm so glad I can have that affect on people. That's exactly what I want to be able to do out here. Now I just need to learn how to do it in Spanish. Anyway, that was one of the best experiences of my entire life.

So, here's what's new. I think. At lunch on Wednesday Elder Harris (one of my roommates, and our district leader) came up to Elder Petersen and I and informed us that he's our new companion because his companion Elder Tensmeyer went home. So now I'm in a trio! I don't know why Elder Tensmeyer went home, and I'm not making assumptions. He is a great guy and he was a great example to me and really helped strengthen my faith while he was here. In fact, because of his example I now feel like I'm able to listen to the spirit and trust in God enough to be able to give a Priesthood blessing, which was pretty much one of my biggest fears before I got here because I've never given one before. We miss him, and I wish him the best.
I'm still pretty tired. Not as much though, so that's good. Except yesterday we had gym first thing in the morning and I decided to run 10 laps around the track, which I'm pretty sure is one mile, and the whole day after that I was exhausted. I haven't gone running since high school so that pathetic one mile is big deal for me, okay? Haha. I'm hurting today. Usually during gym our district plays volleyball, which is awesome. I've loved v-ball for a long time even though I've always been terrible at it. Someone needs to teach me how to play for real when I get back, deal? Deal.

Elder Harris, Elder Petersen and I commited our first fake investigator to be baptized the other day. In Spanish! We're awesome. We're learning the language unrealistically fast. It's truly incredible.

I haven't met anyone else who's going to Chiclayo yet, and I haven't heard anything about my visa either. Elder Hickey and Elder Matagi are the Elders in our district who are serving in Bolivia and they got their travel plans yesterday. I'm not worried though, I wasn't expecting to get them this early. But we'll see what happens. Our expected departure date is October 5th but it depends on our visas.

I can't believe I'm going to have a new cousin when I get home! That is so exciting!!

You know how all my pants are dry clean only? Well a pair of them are in the washing machine right now. So we'll see what happens! No way I'm living in Peru for two years with only dry cleanable pants.

Anyway, I'm running out of e-mail time, so I'm gonna go... and have my p-day.

You're all the best. I love hearing from you. Mail is my favorite. Thanks for everything!!

-Elder Hemsley

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