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!
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.