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