Monday, February 6, 2012

"Always pray. That is all."

Hello hello!

Well, last night we got the call... I'm staying in Pacasmayo with Elder Choc for another transfer!! Woo yay!! I'm way happy about that. Only two sisters are getting transferred out of our whole zone which is kinda weird. Cool though! I'm stoked!

Last night I couldn't sleep because a ridiculously stupid amount of water was pouring down from our ceiling. So that was... annoying. I hate rain! I always have, and now I hate it even worse. Rain is the worst. The end.

Anywayz, I dunno what to really talk about this week. I have a lot I could talk about, but not a lot of time to write about it. Sometimes I wish you could just read my journal instead because it's more detailed about everything. Speaking of that, how's the journal writing coming?

There's this girl we're teaching named Emily. She is eight years old and lives with her dad and aunt who are both members of the church. We're helping her get ready for her baptism, and she's my favorite person ever to teach! She's incredibly smart. She speaks like an adult. She's a genius. Like, she's eight years old and she's smarter than literally everyone else we've ever taught. Usually when we ask people questions in our visits they respond "uh, I dunno" without even thinking about it for at least a good portion of the questions. Not Emily. She answers every single question. And she answers every single question right. One thing she said actually kinda blew me away. We asked her why she thinks that God calls prophets. Normally a standard answer would be (other than "I don't know") something like "to guide us" or "to lead us" or "to keep us in line" or something along those lines. This is what Emily's answer was, after thinking about it for a few seconds: "God calls prophets... to show His love for us." ... are you kidding me?! That's the best answer ever! Sometimes little kids say it best. I learned something from Emily that night. She's amazing and super ready for her baptism. Though she doesn't really count for us because she's an eight year old in a member family, but still!

We've had a ton of really weird visits this week. I can't really do them justice in this e-mail. But there are some really crazy people in this world, and for these next two years I get the opportunity to enter their houses and spend some time with them. And sometimes that's not my favorite thing in the world to do. Haha. We just got a ton of super weird questions this week that had nothing to do with anything we were talking about or anything important whatsoever. Kind of annoying.

We've had some really good ones too. Like the other day, we went to visit one of our investigators, but he wasn't home, We we're gonna leave, but another lady who is his step-daughter invited us in to visit with her. We've met her before. She's there a lot when we go to visit the family. She's a member but she has been inactive ever since she was a little kid so really she hardly knows anything about the gospel. Normally when we're visiting with the family and she's there she just makes fun of us and cracks jokes and is loud and distracting, so I wasn't so sure about how this was gonna go. Well, we go in, and decide to teach her about The Book of Mormon because she didn't even know what that was. We started by talking about Joseph Smith to give a little bit of background. She seemed to be understanding pretty well. As we were just about finishing up, our investigator and his wife (who is also an inactive member) showed up and decided they wanted to visit with us too. His wife asked if we had a message to share about families, so we shared a little bit about how the gospel blesses families and I bore my testimony about how much the gospel has blessed my family's life. It was a good short lesson. By the end this lady who is normally really obnoxious and irreverent was just sitting there all calm and you could tell that the Spirit had touched her heart. The gospel changes people's lives if they will just give it a chance. I get the opportunity to see that happen all the time out here. It's the coolest thing ever.

Other than that, the other day I was thinking about how big of a part prayer has been in my life. Growing up in the church, I've always had a testimony of this gospel, but I haven't exactly always loved church. For a big part of my life I thought church was one of the top most boring things in the world, and that reading the scriptures was the number 1 most boring thing of all time (other than playing Signs). But if there's one thing I've always been good at, it's been praying. Prayer has been such a huge part of my life and I never even really realized that until the other day. I say silent prayers in my head so often I don't even realize it anymore. Even back home with my friends, I would always be praying. I don't think anyone ever knew that. At any moment when I felt like I needed a little extra help, I'd say a silent prayer in my head. When I'd be eating dinner at a friend's house or something I'd always say a silent prayer in my head asking Heavenly Father to bless the food and thanking Him for it. Or perhaps I'd be at Disneyland and unexpectedly get to spend the whole day with my awesomest pal Reyn Yeager, and also run into one of my EFY leaders who I love. I could wait until I'm ready for bed to pray, but nah, I'd say a prayer just to say thanks for letting me have a great day as I'm walking back to the parking lot to leave. My whole life I've always prayed every night before going to sleep. It's such a habit that sometimes I find myself laying in bed forever, unable to sleep, and then I realize that I forgot to say my prayer, and then I say one and I can finally sleep easily. As missionaries we pray all the time. Every night before bed and every morning when we get up, both individually as well as together as companions. We pray before every meal, before we study, before we leave to go out teaching, before and after we plan for the next day, and we pray with everybody we go to visit. And that's not counting all the prayers I say in my head throughout the day. It's like there's always a constant prayer in my heart. Whenever we have to go to another city I always pray that we'll get there safely, because you always feel like you're going to die when you get in a car in Peru. It's way scary. Drivers here are insane and I'm extremely grateful that I don't get to be driving among them. I don't usually remember the dreams I have, but I have noticed that sometimes in my dreams when I'm worried or need help or something that I say a prayer in my dreams. Then when I wake up I'm like "wait, did I seriously just pray in my dream?... I guess I really believe that prayer works." And I know it works. Prayer has always been such a giant part of my life and I never even realized it.

When I gave my farewell talk back at home, four of my closest friends came to hear me speak and support me. It was the last time I got to see any of my friends before I left for Utah. I didn't know it at the time, but later my Dad told me that after the meeting he was talking to them and thanked them for being there, and that one of them said to him "oh, I really wanted to be here. When I'm around Victor, I just feel different." That hit me really hard and still kind of blows me away to this moment. I never knew that. I never knew I could have that kind of an affect on somebody. Then later when I was in the Provo MTC at my first devotional, I felt one of the strongest impressions of the Spirit I felt in my entire life as this man walked into the same room I was in. I didn't see him, and I had no idea who he was, but I felt different just because of his presence. Really different, and really amazing. Then when I finally realized it was one of the 12 apostles it made sense to me. That experience hit me really hard because of what my friend had said about me at church that Sunday. I'm not going to claim I know why he felt like that, but I'd like to think it has something to do with the relationship I've been trying to develop with my Heavenly Father all these years through my prayers.

Prayer is always one of the first things we teach people about. Because if they don't have that communication with their Father is Heaven they won't be able to know for themselves that the message we are sharing is true. Prayer is so crucial. Without it, we can't do anything as missionaries. If the people don't pray, they don't progress, and they don't get it. These past few months as I've been preparing for and starting my mission, prayer has become an even bigger part of my life than ever before. My prayers are so different now, and I truly feel like I'm talking to one of my best friends as I talk with my Heavenly Father. Ever since I've been making prayer a bigger part of my life, I've been receiving so many more answers to my prayers. What a strange concept... Ask more, get more. Kinda just like the scriptures say, eh? "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened (Matthew 7:7-8)." The scriptures are so true! Every week my testimony of the scriptures skyrockets even higher as I begin to experience the promises they give to us in my own life. Prayer is such an incredible power that God has blessed us with. We are HIs children, and because we are His children He wants us to be able to communicate with Him. I know that He listens, and I know that He answers, because I've experienced it over and over again. "And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you (3 Nephi 18:20)." It's been on my mind a lot lately...

Anyway, we didn't get mail again last week but Elder Burton told me we are getting it this week, so I'll finally be able to hear from you guys again. It's been a month! I'm excited! Love you all so hard!

Always pray. That is all.

-Elder Hemsley

Here are a couple of pictures that Victor took earlier today!:

"Me dying in the desert."


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

--Victor's Mom

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