Monday, January 30, 2012


Hola from a hot summer day in the surfing capital of Peru!

I am currently very sunburned (burnt? I never knew how to correctly use that word...) because all the guys in our zone went to the beach here today (the sisters are in Chiclayo) but we didn't plan it ahead of time so I didn't think sunscreen would be necessary... this happens every single Monday. I always get burned... burnt... Mr. Burns... I dunno. We walked out to the end of the pier and it was the sketchiest thing in the world. There were big gaps in between all the boards and huge holes where boards were missing, and the boards wobbled and creaked and basically we were all sort of afraid we were going to die but we kept going anyway. We were being super careful and we were afraid to move too much. It was an adventure. As we were walking back, which was equally as scary, some guys walked past us. The end. Oh wait, they were holding a freaking penguin! So they let us take turns holding it and getting pictures with it. Soo... I held a penguin today. Randomest thing ever. It pooped on Elder Conforme. Hahaha. Then we went to a restaurant and ate chicken and rice (weird huh?) and then to a lighthouse and now I'm here. I miss Seaside.

So word on the street is that Jacqueline got a new violin for Christmas. I'm well aware you told me that a million years ago but I forgot until just now. That is awesome!! Jack, you better practice a lot so that when we get back we can play every Yellowcard song ever written together. I'll just have to re-learn how to play the guitar and sing. Well, more like learn for the first time, because I never really knew how to do either one of those. I would tell you specific songs to practice, but it doesn't matter because every Yellowcard song is one of my favorite songs ever. (Believe, View From Heaven, For You and Your Denial, Rough Landing Holly, Ocean Avenue, Bomber... EVERY SONG). And what's this about Bryn getting an Xbox game? As far as I know the only person in our family with a 360 is me and it is not to be touched for the next two years please... Okay fine, play it...

We haven't gotten mail for the past three weeks because they no longer send us our mail if our zone doesn't have all the baptismal records turned in, and apparently we still don't so I probably won't get mail this week either. Kind of frustrating. And I heard from one of the assistants to the prez that I have a big package waiting for me and I kinda want that. So I haven't read anything any of you have sent me in a long time.

This week was cool. Finally got to help build a house! Well, a room of a house. Out of adobes. We set up a service project with the elders quorum to help a sister add on to her house. Kind of awesome. Adobe houses are way cool. Although I am very glad I don't live in one... So I was super excited to get to do that! Fun times.

We also went to Chiclayo this week for a meeting for all the elders who are training and being trained. It was pretty fun. Got to see some elders from my group in the Lima MTC and it was fun to talk to them and see how they were doing. Good times. After the meeting Elder Choc and I went into this store by the bus station and bought these flute things called quenas, and now we're trying to learn how to play them. I can sort of make sound with it... Haha. Way fun though to finally have an instrument to play! Elder Burton told us that he also bought one, so we're gonna start a quena band. Well not really because none of us know how to play them. Elder Choc is kinda good at it though!

On Tuesday we went to our zone meeting in Guadalupe, but there was a baptism going on that apparently I was never told about for the sister missionaries who are there. They've been teaching this lady named Brenda who is Peruvian but grew up in California and speaks and understands English better than Spanish. So they've been teaching her in English this whole time! How cool is that? (Sister Williams and Sister Case are both from Utah.) It was a way good baptism. Sister Williams gave a talk, and it was in Spanish so everyone at the baptism could understand, but she said some stuff in English to make it easier for Brenda to understand (and I appreciated it too). The coolest thing was that she quoted D&C 90:11 which says "For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fullness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ," and she talked about how God knew that Brenda was ready to hear the gospel, so he called two North American missionaries to Guadalupe to teach her in her own language. So cool! The spirit was way strong at the baptism. The font was way full too. I was jealous.

Knocked a ton of doors this week. Door knocking is not super effective in Pacasmayo. Didn't get into any houses because of it, but made a few appointments. So that's good. What Pacasmayo really needs is a stronger branch. The members here need to be strengthened before we go out looking for new members. We're working on it...

I've been drinking a ton of soda ever since I got here. I always assumed in the United States we drank way more soda than anywhere else in the world because we're dumb and fat, but I was very wrong. Everyone drinks soda all the time here! I guess that's what happens when the water isn't safe to drink. Soda everywhere. I believe I was being prepared for this mission with all the Mountain Dew I consumed before I came out here. Also some stores sell Oreos and it's the best thing ever. Junk food from the United States is the best invention in the world! Oh how I miss it.

The work is tough here. But the message we have is so important. Our message is centered on Jesus Christ, and it's centered on love. Almost always the first thing we teach people is that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us with a perfect love. We are promised so many blessings if we love God. In Matthew we learn what the two greatest commandments are when a man asks Jesus "which is the great commandment in the law?" to which Christ replies "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Love is the most important. The two greatest commandments we have are to love. "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matt 22:36-40)."

But how do we show our love for God? Jesus taught "If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:16)." We show our love to God by being obedient to his commandments. In 1 Corinthians we read "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (1 Cor. 2:9)." To me this is one of the most amazing promises found in the scriptures. The blessings God has for us if we love Him are so great that we can't even imagine them or understand them without the help of the Spirit. But now we're caught in a loop. We show our love for God by keeping his commandments, and his commandment is to love Him. So how do we really show our love for God?... By loving others. By keeping the second great commandment we automatically keep the first.

In Matthew 25 we read "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matt 25:40)." If we have loved others, we have loved God. If we have served others, we have served God. If we offend others, we offend God. So we have to try our best to love everyone we come in contact with to show God that we truly love him.

Jesus Christ teaches that "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35)." When we are baptized we make a promise that we will take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, and that we will follow Him, and serve Him. By showing our love for each other we become the disciples of Christ that we promised we would strive to be.

My favorite promise found in all of the scriptures is in The Book of Mormon, in the second chapter of Mosiah. It reads: "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God." And what are the greatest commandments we have from God? To love Him, and to love others. How do we love Him? By loving others. We automatically keep the first by keeping the second. It continues: "For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it. (Mosiah 2:41)" To me that's a pretty amazing promise. If we keep Gods commandments and "hold out faithful to the end" we will be received into heaven to dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. That is the greatest promise of all time. That's my goal. I know love is something I need to work on. It's hard to love people who you can barely communicate with, but it's the most important thing I can do as a missionary, and as a human being. We need to work on love. The message I'm here to share is about love. If we truly love those around us, we are promised incredible blessings. I know that this is true with all my heart. That's the reason I'm here. If I didn't absolutely know what I was sharing with these people was the truth, it would be stupid to come out here for two years. It would be a huge waste of time. But I know it's not a waste of time, because the Holy Ghost has confirmed to my heart over and over again that what I'm doing is the right thing. It's what God wants. It's what Christ wants. And I have been called to be a representative of and a voice for Jesus Christ here in Peru for the next two years. How can I represent Jesus Christ without showing my love? I can't.

That's what I've been thinking about a lot this week. One day when we were walking to an appointment all of those scriptures randomly came to my head. I might not have known exactly where they all were, but I looked them up when I got back to our room and wrote them down. Later I found out that I had to teach our lesson in our district meeting, so I used those scriptures as my outline and taught about love. It's all about love. I need to work on it, you need to work on it. That is all. I love you all a whole lot, and I shall write again next week (we find out about changes on Sunday. I don't want to get changed!).

See ya!

-Elder Hemsley

Some more fun pictures from Peru (Victor's comments included):

"Elder Choc and I in Pacasmayo!  We have the best area!"

"Playing my quena earlier today. No, I don't know what I'm doing."

"Building a house o'bricks.  If you look behind me, those tarps and cardboard boxes are the family's old house.  Seriously.  We helped them move.  And yes, I am wearing two hats, neither of which are mine."

 "The end of the pier.  It's lacking a Ruby's...probably fell through one of those holes..."

"Under the pier.  And yes, after almost three months my hair is finally long enough to stay down (mostly). Stupid haircuts."

There's more new pictures!  You can check them out (full-sized) by clicking on the slideshow at the top of this blog.

--Victor's Mom

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Had my first baptism this past Saturday!"


I believe this is the photo you've all been waiting for.

Had my first baptism this past Saturday! It's about time, eh? The work is slow in Pacasmayo, but it's happening. I baptized a nine year old kid named Frank Haylander (Highlander. Sick name right?). Elder Despain and I first met his family on Christmas day as we were walking through the rain heading to visit another family. His mom Lili was outside and called us over as we were passing by. We went into their house and met the family and found out the parents are two inactive members of the church, but Haylander wants to get baptized and that sort of sparked their interest in getting active in church again. So we invited them to start coming to church and set a date for Haylander's baptism. Lili came to church and has been super active ever since that day. Super! So we've been visiting Haylander for the past month teaching and preparing him for his baptism. These visits are incredibly hard for me because his mom speaks a million miles per hour, and he has a speech impediment. I can't even understand perfectly clear Spanish, so I'm totally lost when speech impediments come into the picture. But apparently we (and by 'we' I mean Elder Choc) did a good enough job because the baptism actually happened.

But it was a mess! We were rushing to the baptism from another appointment. I basically wanted to cry because we were going to be late and I didn't want to mess up this baptism. So we got there like four minutes late or something... but we were the first people there! Great. I really hate how it's acceptable to be really late to everything in this culture. Anyway, Haylander and his mom and his two little brothers were there waiting. His big sister didn't want to come and his dad was working. So that's kind of sad. We've actually never seen his dad again since the day we met the family. Haylander was so super excited though! He was so happy to see us, and that made me happy. A few minutes after we got there, Wilson showed up, and then we waited a long time. The baptism was supposed to start at 6:00. Nobody got there until 7:00 when one sister from the branch showed up with her daughter, and by complete luck another sister from Trujillo showed up with her daughter who were just visiting Pacasmayo and got bored and decided to see if anything was going on at the chapel that night. So at like 7:15 we were trying to decide if we should do it next week instead, which would have been really lame, but we asked Lili and Haylander what they thought. Lili seemed fine either way but asked "Haylander, do you want to get baptized today?" "Yes! Yes! Yes!!" he replied super happily. So Haylander and I went to change into our white clothes, and when we came out there were three more people there. Woo! Tons! Basically everyone had a part in the program because there was like nobody to choose from. Elder Choc gave a short talk, then we took some photos, and then it was time to baptize! Haylander and I entered the baptismal font only to find that the water had been slowly draining and it was only half as full as it should be. So I baptized him... or tried to. I couldn't get him all the way under the first time. So I told Haylander "we're going to do it again, okay?" and he was super excited to get dunked a second time. Haha. Second time worked. Half-full fonts are a really bad idea. So we changed back into our other clothes and finished the short program. I was confused though because here they receive the Holy Ghost the day after in Sacrament Meeting. The baptism was nice though even with all the problems. I made a special effort to try to make it a good experience for Haylander. It's super hard for me to talk to him, but I made an effort to talk to him a lot and encourage him and help him have a good time. He was so happy all night, so it was awesome.

So yeah, highlight of the week that was. Yoda I am.

Also, this past week I was sick, so that was fun. I've only been sick twice on my mission. Once was the day after Thanksgiving, and was so sick that day we couldn't leave our room, and the other time was this past week. Both times I got sick after eating Paneton. Paneton is this really sick (like, the bad kind of sick this time. Not like the good kind of sick like the "I just got the Sick Score in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 as Darth Maul!° kind of sick) fruit cake thing and I hate it so much and it apparently makes me sick. Which is good I guess, because now I have an excuse not to eat it. They eat it tons here around the holidays, and I super don't like it. Never shall I eat it again. Well... I probably will because I feel bad about turning down food people offer me. But I will die a little bit each time I take a bite. It is the worst!!

I went to Chepén again this week to spend the day working with Elder Ruiz. That was a lotta fun. Taught a bunch of good lessons, and it's always nice to be somewhere different for a moment. I got eaten alive by mosquitos though! I was suffering of extreme itchiness for days afterward. Their room in Chepén is also infested with giant crickets. There was a hilariously huge pile of dead crickets that Elder Burton had killed, and Elder Ruiz killed a bunch more the night I was there. We have crickets in our room too, but not as bad. Elder Ruiz told me that I'm learning the language really fast. That so many elders suffer so much learning the language, but I'm picking it up really quickly and easily. He said he remembered when I got here how I knew basically nothing, but now I speak really well. Elder Ruiz is kind of awesome! The next day when we met up with our normal companions to switch back Elder Ruiz had us all share a little bit about our experience, and he talked about how I was really good at sharing my personal experiences when we teach, and that when I talk people pay a lot of attention and understand what I'm saying, and that I'm learning  way fast. I s'pose I am learning pretty dang fast. I forget that sometimes. I have noticed I'm doing a lot better than some of the other missionaries. Maybe there's something to that promise I got in my patriarchal blessing that I'd be called to serve a full-time mission and have to learn a new language that would be easy for me to learn. Hmm...

One thing that's kinda funny here is that we set appointments all the time to visit people. In Spanish the word for 'appointment,' "cita," is the same word they use for 'date,' so basically I've had tons of dates these past two months. All the time I have dates! Sometimes they're with guys, sometimes they're with old women, sometimes they're with entire families, but all the time we have dates! I should probably continue to use an agenda to plan my dates when I get home. So when a girl asks me out on Friday I can be like "uh, no, actually I already have five other dates on Friday, but on Saturday I have from 4:00 to 4:30 open if that would work instead." Haha. Great idea. Except a huge problem here is that appointments fall through all the time. It's super annoying. We had an entire day full of appointments on Tuesday, and all but one of them fell through! And the one that didn't fall through was a family of active members who we were having a Family Home Evening with. It can be really frustrating. But eh, whatever. You always have to have a backup plan. And usually the backup plan will also fall through.

I saw a guy try to rob another guy the other day. It was kind of funny because he did a really bad job. He just ran up to this guy, grabbed his fanny pack, realized it was attached too well, and just gave up and walked away feeling like an idiot. Haha. Silly guy. Although I can totally understand why he would want a fanny pack. Fanny packs are the best. I should start wearing one.

I don't have a whole lot left to say about this week. I'm trying to send a few more photos so I hope I can do that. This comp is slow though. Every comp is slow. It'll always be a little tough to do this. Talk to you next week dudes and girl-dudes!

-Elder H

Here are some of the pictures Victor sent this week (his comments included):

"Thanks Eugene 3rd!!"
(He loved the banner w/Christmas wishes that his ward sent him!)

 "You can't tell, but we're in the bed of a truck driving to the beach."

"Lots of these in our room."

"Inca Kola... Not as good as Mountain Dew... but good."

"Just a normal day in Peru."

He sent a bunch more!  You can check them out (full-sized) by clicking on the slideshow at the top of this blog.

--Victor's Mom

Monday, January 16, 2012

"I ate chicken feet for the first time!"

Hi guyz!
Hmm. What happened this week... Welllll........ Uhh....
I can never think when I'm writing these things.
Let's see... On Tuesday our zone came down to Pacasmayo for our weekly zone meeting I got mail and I got that my Christmas banner from the ol' Eugene 3rd Ward! I forgot about those things! Way awesome!! Thanks ward! I especially appreciated the various Star Wars references it had. Got my usual letters from the fam too. I love your weekly letters! Thank you thank you! Even though I almost never write back anymore. Sorry! That's what these e-mails are for. Seriously I never have time to write letters anymore. But I'll at least make an effort to write people if its their first time writing me. Some of you I'd like to write whenever possible. Some of your letters have been direct answers to prayers I've had and I wanna keep in contact with you! You guys are the coolest. Like those people who sent me birthday letters through my mom, those were all awesome but I don't have any of your addresses so I can't respond. But I want to! It might just take me like seven months to do it.
After our zone meeting our zone leaders Elder Ruiz and Elder Burton had to come with us to our room to pick something up from us. The day before I had told Elder Burton that there's a store in Pacasmayo that sells Dr. Pepper and so he really wanted to go buy some because Dr. Pepper is not found anywhere in Peru. So on the way to the room we picked up some DP's. Mmm... He said he'd been looking for DP his whole mission, which is like 18 or 19 months or something, and he was so excited to drink it! Basically he was almost as excited as I would be to drink Mountain Dew. Almost. So that was delish. Some other day they came back to pick something else up and I was talking to Elder Burton about music and all the instruments we wish we could play and all the music we miss and how badly we miss going to concerts. Haha. He's a cool guy. And he's gonna go to BYUI after the mish so that's pretty sickawesome!
Speaking of music, I played a Mario song on the piano (Dire Dire Docks from Super Mario 64 for those who really care that much) in our chapel after church one day and Elder Choc thought it was way cool so he wanted me to teach it to him. I'm a really bad teacher but he sort of has the beginning down now. Haha. Way cool. Except we hardly ever get to play the piano. Somehow I am automatically way better friends with someone if they appreciate the joys of Nintendo 64. I'm also helping him with English a lil' bit. Teaching English is hard because English doesn't make sense.
Oh yeah, speaking of music some more, and Nintendo 64, this week I finished writing a new song made up of Star Fox 64 quotes. Haha. I am so dumb. Well the chorus and bridge are Star Fox quotes and the rest I made up. The weird thing is its not even really a joke song, other than the fact that it's a funny idea. I've finished writing three songs since being out here. Hopefully I can come home with a bunch of new ones to record. That would be kewl.
Uhh, the other day we woke up to water leaking from our ceiling again! So that was kind of fun. And by "fun" I mean "really really stupid. Idiot." I get nervous when that happens because the water leaks right next to my desk, so I moved my desk right next to my bed, so now my desk chair is my bed. And it's kind of comfortable for like ten minutes and then it starts to get really uncomfortable because there is no back rest. But I'm leaving it there for now partially because I'm lazy.
On Saturday we ate with a member and I finally got to eat something kind of weird! Kind of. I ate chicken feet for the first time! You feel really awesome when you eat them because you just bite the toes off, bones and all, and eat all the meat and then spit the bones back out. It's kind of creepy how easy it is to bite a toe off. Haha. It tasted good though. The other other thing I've had that could really be considered kind of weird was that we ate bunny one day. It tasted like chicken... for realz it did. Eating with members is a lot of fun even if I still can't talk with them all that much. But I'm getting way better.
Drunk people still talk to us all the time. Kinda very annoying. Get sober please. Yesterday as we were walking to church these two guys who were drinking called us over to talk to us and asked us for our help to help them with their drinking problem because it was ruining their lives and distancing them from their families. Well, at least they recognized that. But also they were drunk so they don't really know what they're saying. Every drunk guy in the street wants us to help them change their lives. But only when they're drunk. When they're sober they don't care, and then they go get drunk again. So anyway we decided to make an appointment with one of them (which we never do with drunk people, but I dunno, maybe there's hope this time... Probably not.) and he was super thankful about it, and then Elder Choc was like "and how about today you make it a goal to go without drinking for the rest of the day?" And the guy was like "look, I'm not going to lie, I'm going to keep drinking today. But thanks for everything." Haha. Okay. Thanks for being honest. Bye. I'm just so grateful I've never had to deal with any of that crap in my life growing up in the church. And I'm especially thankful to all my friends who've always respected my decisions not to be a part of that stuff. I've never felt pressured by any of you to do something I didn't want to do or didn't feel was right, and I love and respect the heck outta all you guys for that. I picked some good friends. I know lots of members of the church who haven't been so lucky with their friends respecting their standards and beliefs. You guys have always been so awesome.
Then we went to church and we gave talks again. This time my talk went better and I didn't pee my pants, so that's good. I actually like speaking in church, I just hate preparing talks. So once again I pulled out a really crappy talk I wrote in the Lima MTC on enduring to the end and used that as my outline and made up the rest on the spot. It went pretty well considering I'm only a level 3 Spanish speaker (out of 999 levels). So that was kind of fun. Wilson also spoke and he's the coolest guy ever. Pretty sure I've said that about him a few times before. He's the coolest.
Hmm... that's pretty much been my week I think... Tomorrow I'm going to Chepén again to spend the day with Elder Ruiz as Elder Burton comes to Pacasmayo to work with Elder Choc. Every week I'm in Chepén! I'm stoked though. Chepén´s cool and Elder Ruiz is a great guy. Also I get to take a shower in Chepén so I'm more than a little excited about that. I've almost gone two months without running water!! I figure it's good practice for the rest of my life as I'm living as a super poor musician. Now that I know that I can survive without running water or a good ceiling, I'm set for life! Sorry future wife.
Did Bryn get her patriarchal blessing yet?? I wanna hear about it! My patriarchal blessing is one of the most precious things I have. It's the coolest thing in the world! So many things I was told in my blessing have already come to pass or are currently happening in my life. It's such a huge source of comfort and guidance for me. I liked how in General Conference Elder Russell M. Nelson said something about how our patriarchal blessings are visions of our future. It's so so so cool. I love mine so much!! Patriarchal blessings are seriously like the coolest part of the church. Okay fine there are a lot of cool parts. Like my nametag. That's pretty cool.
Well, yeah that's pretty much it. I dunno. All I really have left to say is that everyone should take the chance to serve a mission if they can. If it's ever crossed your mind to serve, just do it!! There are a million reasons not to go, but you can't even imagine the amazing blessings you'll receive and how much you'll learn and grow spiritually for serving. It's the most incredible thing in the world. Fer realz. Everyone should serve a mission. Let's get Elder Hunter, Elder James, and Elder Tyler their mission calls to Peru Chiclayo so I can be their trainers! That would be the funnest.
Anyway, gotta go. Maybe I'll e-mail again next week. We'll see...
-Elder H
Oh yeah and I miss you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A nice LONG letter AND pictures!!!

Oh hi I didn't see you come in.

Well I'm still alive and well in Peru. Thanks all I really have to say this week, so bye.

Okay fine. I figured last week my e-mail was full of plenty of obscure references and inside jokes that probably most of the people who read these didn't catch. Actually all of my e-mails are like that. Haha, oops. Well once upon a time in the summer of '10 I was at Comic-Con and I went to the Family Guy panel, and Seth MacFarlane was talking about how in every Family Guy episode they have what they call "one percenters" which are jokes or references that only one percent of their viewing audience are going to catch or understand (and then he sang a song live in Stewie's voice and Angry Video Game Nerd was in the same room as me and I didn't see him). Yeah, that's how my e-mails are too. Sorry about that. But those one percenters are funny to me, and that's possibly all that sort of matters. Speaking of the 'Con, I liked that letter Bryn sent me (probably a really long time ago but I got it recently) that said I'm so going to be one of those guys who meets a girl at Comic-Con.... Yeah, probably. When I get home I think I should go wife hunting at Comic-Con. I mean, Olivia Munn is there every year so that's already one possibility. (lol lol lol lol lol lol lol)

Okay enough Comic-Con. Uh... this week... I don't know! Oh yeah, I just remembered some stuff.

This week our branch Mission Leader, Wilson got married, so that was kind of awesome. Wilson is one of the greatest people I've ever met in my life and he always gets us so stoked about being missionaries. His wife Dora is also one of the greatest people ever. So we're pretty excited for them. They're the coolest in the world.

We went teaching with a member the other day and we went to see this lady who started telling us about this dream she had where a young man dressed in white came down in a plane to show her which was the true church of Jesus Christ. And that he gave her a book but she can't read so she couldn't read what it said (tons of people can't read here. Lots don't know how to read, but even more suffer from terrible eyesight and can no longer read). So... I'm dressed in white... I came in a plane... I'm here to help people find the true church... and I have a book too. So... that's oddly coincidental, eh? Oh yeah, and then she told me the person in her dream looked like me. OH OKAY. So yeah, that happened. We'll go back to see her sometime.

Uhh I don't know really what else to say so instead I'm just gonna copy an entry from my journal for you to read because it's better than me trying to remember what happened. I did end up going on a split in Chepén this past Tuesday/Wednesday with Elder Quinton who's a brand new North American Elder, because both of our companions are District Leaders and the leaders had a meeting in Chiclayo. So yeah, just read what I wrote before because I'm lazy:


Hola myself and various other readers who are for some reason reading my journal. [I seriously write dumb stuff like that in my journal. My journal is even worse than my e-mails.]

Today I spent the day in Chepén with Elder Quinton. He's been in the field for one week, and he's struggling with the language, but he has a desire to do the Lord's work which is awesome and even though it's really hard for him he doesn't let it stop him from trying. He's pretty sweet. This morning before we went out to teach I was starting to get kinda nervous as I realized how little we know of the language and especially that of the two of us I have the most experience both in the language and in the work. I decided to put all my trust in the Lord. He knew I would be put in this situation and he knew I would be able to handle it. I prayed hard for His help and His guidance, and trusted that He would lead us to where we needed to be and to fill our mouths with the words we needed to say when we got there. I had never put so much trust in the Lord before as I had today. I'd never needed His help so much to do His work. But even though I was nervous I felt a sense of comfort the whole time knowing that I'm out here doing the Lord's work, and as long as I try my best He'll always be right there with me to help me do what I can't do on my own.

So we went out and hit the city of Chepén armed with nothing but a few pamphlets, our scriptures, and a lot of hope and faith that God would help make up for our combined lack of experience. We had a couple appointments lined up, but other than that it was up to us to make contacts, or "short lessons" [I dunno what you call them in English. I only learn this stuff in Español.], which is where we talk to people and tell them a little bit about who we are and about our message and hopefully get their info or schedule and appointment with them. My whole mission I've depended on my companions to do this. I always left it to Elder Despain and now to Elder Choc because it is something I'm so uncomfortable with. Even in English. Going out of my way to talk to random people on the street or knocking doors is super uncomfortable, and I've basically never really done it so far on my mission because of that. Well, today I made my first contacts. In total Elder Quinton and I had 13 contacts for the afternoon. We approached people in the streets, and we knocked a lot of doors. We didn't always understand what the people were saying to us, but we were doing our best, and 13 contacts is better than I've been doing with Elder Choc and Elder Despain too.

We knocked one door and a little boy answered and I asked his parents were home. He went to go check and came back and told us they were gone but that his grandma was there and she was coming. This was the best part of my day. After we waited a minute or two his grandma came to the door and invited us in. This was the first house we were invited into and it was time to put my trust in the Lord to help us teach a good lesson or share a good message with this lady. Her name was Luz, or "Light." Lots of people have names like that in Peru. We sat down and just started talking. Things were going pretty well. I was understanding most of what she was saying and was able to respond fairly easily to her questions or comments. I wasn't sure what to teach though. I was thinking maybe I'd teach about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, because most of the time that's what we teach first, but I wasn't totally sure. I explained to her that we're in Peru as missionaries to share the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as we can, and she was really impressed that two young guys like us are dedicating our time to preaching the gospel. We get that a lot. It is pretty cool if you think about it. Anyway after talking a little more, somehow it came up that her grandson or nephew or someone (I'm still learning. Gimmie a break.) has cancer and is suffering so much. Boom! I began to explain how each one of us has our own trials and challenges in this life, and that some people have bigger challenges than others, and we don't always know why we have to pass through these challenges, but if we trust in God He can help us overcome them. I told her that my dad was diagnosed with cancer, and that my cousin passed away because of a form of cancer, and that even though they're good people, they still suffered these huge challenges, and it even cost my cousin his life. I went on to explain that because Heavenly Father loves us He has provided a way through Jesus Christ that we can live with Him again and with our families forever. I taught that God has a plan for each and every one of us, and that His plan might be different than our plan, but He loves us and wants the best for us, and He knows better than we do what the best is. I used Ezra as an example, telling her that God wasn't punishing Ezra for allowing him to die suddenly of cancer, but maybe God needed Ezra elsewhere, in heaven (which honestly I had never thought of before in my life until I said it. What a comforting thought...). I explained that there will always be sadness in this life when we lose someone we're close to, but the gospel of Jesus Christ gives us hope and comfort in the knowledge that someday we will get to see them again, and how thankful I am for the knowledge that someday I am going to see Ezra again. I gave her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet for her to read, and offered a prayer asking God to help this lady and especially her grandson (??) and to help them get through these hard times. She was so thankful that we came by and we set an appointment for Elder Quinton to come back on Friday with Elder Conforme... Wow. I taught all of that... Wow!! I didn't always know what to say, or how to respond, but I just kept opening my mouth and the words just came flowing out without difficulty. I spoke so much. I barely let Elder Quinton say anything which I feel kinda bad about, but I'm still learning how to teach with another person. I felt the Spirit so strong in the lesson though, and I know God was putting the words in my mouth that I needed to say. All I had to do was open my mouth. I learned a whole lot about putting my trust in God today. If we trust in Him, and we do the best we can, He will make up for the rest. I know without a doubt in my mind that this is true after today. I did not, and I do not have the ability to do this on my own, but I put my faith in my Heavenly Father that He would help me and guide me, and He did.

Two scriptures came to mind that remind me of my experience today:

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

"Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voice unto this people, speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and ye shall not be confounded before men, For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, the very moment, what ye shall say... And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say."
(D&C 100:5-6,8)

The scriptures are coming alive to me in ways I never thought were possible. I'm experiencing so many miracles and so many blessings doing this work, and the more I develop my relationship with my Father in Heaven and learn to put my trust in him, the more frequently I experience them, and the more amazing they are.

So... That was my cool experience for the week. My hands hurt pretty bad because that took a while to type and once again I'm at an Internet cafe that has crappy keyboards. Ouch ouch. Pretty cool though, eh? I bet now you think my journal is full of all kinds of great stuff like that but usually my journal is full of stupid stuff. For example of how dumb my journal can be, look at the attached photo of one of my past journal entries.

It's about Spongebob and diarrhea. Merry Christmas.

I'm really glad I've been keeping a journal this whole time though. Every day of my mission so far. I have a strong testimony about how much I hate writing in my journal, but I love being able to look back and read it later. I love my journals I kept that I very rarely wrote in over the past few years. I had a goal at school to write in my journal once a week. It ended up being more like once every few weeks and then in the winter semester it was more like once every two months, but I'm still so glad I wrote what little I did. Since I'm a missionary I get to challenge people to make commitments all the time, and now for the first time I'm gonna challenge my family to consistently keep journals. Doesn't have to be every day. Maybe once a week or every two weeks. But just do it! Write about whatever has been going on in your life, whatever thoughts you have, or whatever video games you've been playing. Writing in a journal is no fun, but you'll be so glad you did it later. This challenge extends out to anyone else who wants to give it a try. But it's not optional for my family. Haha.

Anyway I gotta get outta here. I like your fat faces.

Oh yeah speaking of fat, we started eating lunch with members on the weekends, and on Saturday the family we were eating with told me I was getting fatter. Here it's not rude or offensive to talk about people's weight so they'll just flat out tell you if you're fat. Haha. I kinda like that. Anyway I don't think I'm getting fatter but I don't have a scale or anything to prove it. Gaining some weight would probably be a really good thing. I'm gonna come back and be a big fat guy for the rest of my life.

Okay bye for real!


*but that e-hug was only to guys because I'm a missionary*

-Elder Hemsley

Here are some of our favorite pictures he sent (his comments included): 

"Probably one of the funnest moments of my entire mission. Played Mario songs obviously. I miss piano!" 

 "Lightsaber battling with Elder Ruiz! Thanks for the lightsabers! I have yet to eat them."

"Elder Choc and I with Noe DeLaCruz who's a 16 year old in our branch. He wanted to come to our activity today in Chepen so we took him with us! He rules. Mega thumbs-up fail on my part."

"PIZZA! Christmas Eve in Chiclayo. How Christmas Eve should be. First and only pizza I've had on my mission. SO GOOD EVEN IF IT WASN'T THAT GOOD."

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

--Victor's Mom

Monday, January 2, 2012

"My new companion is Elder Choc and he's megatasticly awesomatical!"

Oh hi I'm Victor.

Whoa! New stuff this week. Including the last digit of the year. Now this is podracing!

Please excuse every dumb thing I say that doesn´t make sense.

Well. I'm without Elder Despain now. Obviously last week I was a little bit stressed out (a lot) about this change. When I would teach people with Elder D he would be talking to the people and I would have no idea what was going on and then he'd look at me or do something to signal that it was my turn to speak and I'd just sit there and be like "uhh... yo quiero Taco Bell... one Baja Blast without ice please?..." and then Shel would walk in and yell into the Taco Bell kitchen "BEAN BURRITO NO ONIONS!"... Okay this e-mail is starting off really... good... But yeah, I didn't feel ready at all. So yeah Tuesday Elder D went off to Chiclayo and I went to Chepén for the night and most of the next day to be with Elder Ruiz, who's one of my Zone Leaders who was also getting a new companion. Elder R is pretty radtastic. He's from Lima. So I got to spend a day proselyting with him in a different city which was fun, and a nice breath of fresh air. There were actually some trees in Chepén, so that was cool. Hardly any, but more than in Pacasmayo. The best part of that night was that I got to take a real shower for the first time in over a month! IT FELT SO GOOD YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW. Yeah, still don't have running water. This is a little ridic.

So Wednesday evening Elder R and I got our new companions. My new companion is Elder Choc and he's megatasticly awesomatical! And he's from freaking Springfield Oregon!!


Even cooler, he's from Guatemala! I dunno where but Mommy you should tell me what part of Guatemala you used to live in. He's seriously way way cool. He doesn't know a lot of English, so that's new for me. He's 23 years old, he's been out on the mish for 14 months, and he's been a member of the church for four years. Dang! All these recent convert Latin missionaries are such inspirations to me! Anywayz I was mega freaking out about getting a new comp and sucking at Spanish but I feel like overnight my Spanish improved sooo much. Just wanna throw it out there that any time I'm feeling down or I really need some help that my best bud Heavenly Father gives me what I need every single time I ask for His help. Every prayer always gets answered. It's the coolest thing ever. I went from honestly really depressed on Monday and Tuesday to feeling great and much more confident overnight. I've been pretty much directing the area for the past few days, which is super weird. I'm all the sudden the one who knows everything about Pacasmayo. I'm leading him to all the investigators' and members' houses,and showing him around and making most of the decisions 'n stuff. It hit me pretty hard the other day how weird it is that I'm doing this when Elder Choc is the fluent Spanish speaking who's been a missionary for over a year and I'm just the dumb newb who doesn't know the language and hasn't even finished his training. But I'm def getting a little extra help from above. The other day Elder Choc proved to me how awesome he was when we were eating dinner and he was like "what kind of food do you like to eat in the States?" and I said something like "uh, I dunno... pizza... burgers... spaghetti..." and then he was like "do you like Taco Bell?"... UHH YES I DO. "Yeah, me too" he said. We can be friends. And then the next day he told me about how he'd sometimes used to stay up all night playing Nintendo 64 (Nintendo Sesenta y Cuatro in these parts) which reinforced his coolness to me. Even more this morning when he started talking about Super Mario 64 which is one of the greatest things on this planet. So yeah, my new companion rules. Someday I'll send you a picture of him but we never know which internet cafes will have good comps to send pictures and this one doesn't.

Oh yeah, when I was in Chepén I finished my first journal! I've never filled up an entire journal before in my life! Usually back home I only wrote in my journal like once every six months and then I'd write more during the summer to remember my sw33t vacations. Mostly I wrote in my journal at EFY. I have my last three years at EFY very thoroughly documented. Well, not really. Mostly it says stuff like "today Tyler and I drank a ridiculous amount of Mountain Dew" or "today Hunter and I drank a ridiculous amount of Mountain Dew" or "today James and I drank a ridiculous amount of Mountain Dew" or "today Hunter and I snuck Tyler into the dance and it was super fun and Tyler got chased down by like four counselors and it was Hilarious City and I almost got busted but whatever because Mountain Dew." Except I didn't write in my journal a single time this past summer. I didn't even write about getting my mission call. So... yeah. But I'm on to journal #2 so that's awesome.

I got your Christmas package this week! Yesterday actually. Our Zone all came to Pacasmayo for New Years Day and my Zone Leaders brought me the package. Dang, you guys are the coolest! STAR WARS LOLLIPOPS AND SUPER MARIO GUMMIES TASTE SO MUCH BETTER THAN REGULAR LOLLIPOPS OR GUMMIES. And you guys got me awesome presents that I'll receive when I get back. A part of me died inside knowing that Sam got me the new blink album. But it's okay, because I'm doing something cool. The Zone reunion was kinda fun. It got dumb though because we started playing signs. You know that game where everyone has a signal and you pass your signs around in a circle without the person in the middle seeing you? Every time I'm with a group of people and we decide to play signs I want to run myself over with a tractor. Signs is what you play when you have absolutely nothing else to do. Except it's more boring than doing nothing, so you should never play it. Haha.

This Wednesday Elder Choc has to go to Chiclayo for District Leading training so I might go on splits with two brand spanking new North American missionaries. So yeah, none of us know this language, so that'll be interesting.

P.S.: Thanks so much for sending me all these updates from my friends on missions! Always love reading what Mitch is up to in Russia. Nothing gets me quite as excited about what I'm doing as reading Porter's letters from the Philippines as he explains his experiences starting out his mission in a weird place. It's so similar to what I'm experiencing yet so different too. That Elder Porter Long is one of the coolest dudes I know. And it sure was fun seeing him at the MTC too. Mail is fun. Yesterday I got a letter from November 6th. So... yeah, the mail system rules. The fam Christmas card was awesome! I picked out a couple choice quotes that I especially liked:

"Oh, yeah, why do we have a new (used) car? Er... Victor kind of totaled our minivan as a parting gift before leaving for Peru. Ugh!"

Haha, thanks family. That van ruled. Minivans 4 lyf.

"Greg still works with the young men in the Eugene Stake and is also newly serving on the High Council, which Victor thinks is kinda cool because it reminds him of Star Wars."

Hahahaha. Yes. My dad has the most Star Warsiest calling in the entire church. So awesome. Second Star Warsiest calling is probably Prophet.

Well, time is running out. I'm feeling quite a whole lot happier this week that I did last week. Thanks for all your prayers that are helping me to experience so many miracles in my life all the time out here as I'm adjusting to a really different way of living. I love you all the way to the forest moon of Endor and back!

I leave you with one last quote I particularly like from my dear pal Mr. Elder Mitchell Paul:

"Never don't study the scriptures."

K bye you're cool.

-Elder Victor