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