Monday, March 5, 2012

"Well, this whole week was really all about one person. Juan!"

Oh hey.

Well... first of all... Happy birthday this week DAD!! No fair that I can't celebrate with you... But I couldn't last year either. Sad :( Also happy birthday James and also happy birthday Chad Gilbert! Lolz. All on the same day! Woo! March 9th is apparently a good day to be born. Also its all about that moment when you realize the Paramore song "The Only Exception" is probably about Chad Gilbert and it all of the sudden makes the song way more awesome.

Anyway, that got off topic fast...

Well, this whole week was really all about one person. Juan! I talked about him last time. We saw Juan every day this past week either at his house or at activities to help prepare him for his baptism and to help him get to know more members and feel involved. For realz he's the best investigator ever. He just gets everything. When we visit with him the Spirit is always present. I remember I heard once that you know you're teaching with the Spirit when you learn something from what you teach. That has happened to me multiple times while visiting with Juan. I'll be teaching, and I'll be saying something, and then all of the sudden I realize what I said and something just clicks in my mind like "wow, I never thought of that before... This all makes so much more sense now!" Seriously that happened a lot. Especially as I was talking about the Atonement and the fall of Adam and Eve. Visiting him has been a huge testimony and faith building experience.

On Wednesday we had a Family Home Evening planned at his house. Last Sunday we announced it in elder's quorum and got a bunch of people to say they'd come with us. So on Wednesday we all meet up at the chapel so we can travel together to Jequetepeque and have the FHE together with Juan and his wife at their house. Obviously we left way late, because that's just to be expected when you involve members, but it all worked out. (My favorite was that 15 minutes after we were already supposed to have left one of the people there called someone else who said he was going to come, and he tells him "oh yeah, I'm still planning on coming! I'm at home right now and I'm just going to take a shower first. Wait for me." Haha, uhh... okay...) We had a great turnout. In total there were 13 people there which way exceeded my expectations, including a few inactive members that Juan and his wife invited! So cool. The FHE was really nice, and after I left I just felt really good. I dunno, I just felt so happy and I felt like we did a really good thing and that it was a good experience for Juan. It was a good experience.

On Thursday there was a district activity in Guadalupe because Elder Uceda of the first quorum of the Seventy who's in the area presidency was coming to speak. So we were pretty excited for that. Elder Uceda also spoke to the missionaries in Chiclayo in December and it was way good. Juan came with us, which was awesome. I felt pretty sick that night (really really sick actually) so sadly I didn't get to enjoy it all that much, but the parts of his talk I heard or paid attention to were really great. Before the meeting the power went out, which delayed the meeting from starting a lot. After waiting for a while for the power to come back, they decided to just start the meeting anyways. Elder Uceda started speaking, without light, and without a microphone. He told us that he felt impressed that the meeting needed to start and that he got the impression that God would help us be able to go forward with the meeting. As he was explaining this, the power came back on... Wow!! Not to mention basically his whole talk was about light. The light of Christ. So it all tied in and it was basically the coolest thing ever. Juan had a good time. Even though I felt absolutely horribly sick that night, as we were leaving I just felt so thankful for being able to have that experience listening to a member of the Seventy with Juan. Something overcame me as we were traveling back to Pacasmayo and I just started praying in my head and pouring out my thanks to my Heavenly Father. I don't know what happened, but it was just a really spiritual experience for me, and as I was praying and thinking I just felt the comfort of the Spirit and God's love for me so strongly. It was incredible.

The next day was Juan's baptismal interview. The zone leaders also had a baptismal interview in their area at the exact same time, so we had to do splits. Elder Meza (our new zone leader if I never mentioned him before) came to Pacasmayo to interview Juan, and Elder Choc went to Chepén with Elder Burton to interview their investigator. Elder Meza is way awesome. He's a great guy and I'm way stoked to be serving in the zone with him. Anyway, he interviewed Juan, and I played piano in the chapel for like 40 minutes. It was the best ever. But I was running out of songs I know, and I still can't read sheet music so my options were pretty limited... But anywayz, Juan passed the interview!

Saturday was his baptism. I would describe the experience as a horrible nightmare with a happy ending. Basically, everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Multiple times. We trusted in members to take care of things that they didn't take care of. Elder Choc and I ended up having to rush around the city of Pacasmayo to pick things up that were forgotten (after the baptism was already supposed to start...) and basically had to put together the baptism from scratch way late. There was no program for the baptism, so Elder Choc and I quickly threw that together too. Elder Choc asked me if I could give the first talk. Uh no, that is not something I felt like I could do in a foreign language with no time to prepare. But I couldn't refuse. This baptism had to happen. "Yeah, I'll do it" I told him. Since there was nobody else Elder Choc volunteered himself for the second talk. All of this extra waiting and confusion was making Juan nervous and I felt so bad for him! Finally the thing started (waaaaay late) and we ended up having a really nice baptismal service. I went up and gave my improv'd talk in Español. It wasn't that great, but considering I had no time to prepare it was pretty okay. The Spirit was way strong at the baptismal service. My favorite part was that Juan got to share his testimony after he got baptized. The first time we met him he told us his main concern about getting baptized was that he'd have to share his testimony in public and that he wouldn't know what to say. Haha. Well, his testimony was simple, but powerful. The next day in sacrament meeting he received the gift of the Holy Ghost and was confirmed a member of La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días. This experience getting to know Juan and helping him prepare for this huge step in his life has been such a huge blessing for me. It's been amazing and I'm so happy we've been able to help him get to this point. We're gonna keep on visiting him. He's already going to help clean the church on Friday, and he's also volunteered to help in an elder's quorum service project, and he's excited about a sports activity the branch has planned. He's always one of the first to help set up or put away chairs before and after every meeting. He really is the best. This week was all about him. The baptism was chaotic and incredibly frustrating at first, but it ended up nice in the end. 

Today was pretty fun. We went to Chepén to watch a movie with the zone and eat hamburgers (well, sort of hamburgers, but they were better than most of the food I've eaten here.). We watched 17 Miracles which was way good! Wasn't that the movie we were gonna go see in California and then we decided to see Captain American instead? (Haha, good choice by the way. Captain American owned and it was my last chance to see it before I left. Superheroes fighting Nazis is the best combo.) Have you guys seen it yet? It was really sad. It really made me appreciate a lot more all the pain and suffering the Mormon pioneers in the handcart companies had to go through. Really horrifyingly sad stuff. It also reminded me of how much I didn't like Trek. Lolz. But it was about the Willie handcart company and I didn't realize it until the very end when it started showing the names of the people that were portrayed, but I'm pretty sure some of the characters in the movie are our family members, because I recognized the names and I'm pretty sure I did a report on them in middle school or something. Patience Loader... ring a bell? I don't remember for sure but I'm pretty sure that's our family. So if you haven't seen it yet, see it. It's way good. Really sad. But now I want to watch it again because I didn't catch during the movie that those people were in it.

Elder Choc and I had to pick up the projector last night so that we could bring it to the activity to watch the movie today. Well, we decided to test it out first, and ended up watching the Joseph Smith movie in our room on our wall. Haha. Never expected I'd get to do that on my mission. It was way fun. And after seeing the movie like ten times I finally saw Porter in it! I always forget to look for him when I watch it but I finally saw his part. Haha, good to see one of my friends out here after so long.

Well, time is short and it looks like we gotta go. I hope you guys are all awesome and I still like you and I just can't wait to see your dumb faces again. I was thinking this week, that I'm pretty sure that true happiness is coming home after two years... and playing Spider-man 2 on Gamecube. Hahaha.

I leave you with a part of another journal entry that I randomly stumbled across this week as I was looking for something else:

Today I saw a lot of Spider-man toys at this one store and I really badly wanted them.

lolol alright I miss you okay bye okay.

-Elder Hemz

These are the pictures he sent this week:

"Juan's baptism."

"These are everywhere. Seriously."

"Thanks for the shirt!"

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