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!