Monday, April 30, 2012

"I'm now changing from Junior to Senior companion and I will be finishing the training of a new Elder!"

Hey dewd what's up? Oh cool.

Another week down in Olmos, Peru! A week full of searching for new people to teach. We're running low on progressing investigators right now, so we're doing a whole lot of looking for new ones. I dunno, sometimes I wonder why I'm not seeing much success in the mission, or why the other district in our area has had multiple baptisms this transfer and we don't have any upcoming baptisms. But then I realized I wasn't called to baptize. I was called to preach the gospel in the Spanish language to the people of Peru. And that's what I've been doing to the best of my ability. I've been fulfilling my calling, and that's all that really matters. All the people here who are interested in our message can't progress because they're not willing to marry the person they're living with which is in direct violation of a commandment from God. The people who don't have problems living together don't have much interest. It's a little tough, because we have some really great people we're visiting but the problem is they can't get baptized. Baptism is an ordinance through which God forgives people for their sins, but we don't baptize people if they're living in a continual state of sin that they aren't willing to change. One lady here told us that it's a cultural thing here that people are afraid to get married because they're afraid of the commitment. They don't want to commit, so that if any little problem comes up in their relationship in the future, they can up and leave guilt free because they aren't married. Thereby destroying the family they have already formed. The way I see it is that if they're not willing to make the commitment and get married, they don't really love each other. They're anticipating future problems that might arise because they don't fully love or trust their spouse. Bleh, I dunno. I love the gospel so much because it gives us an eternal perspective on families. I know that one day I can get married and sealed to my wife for all eternity, and with that perspective it will make me strive to continually strengthen my relationship with my wife and family, even through all the hard times. The people here just don't want to deal with the hard times. They don't have that eternal perspective. Really, if families aren't eternal, then there isn't really that much of a point of making an effort to have good family relations if one day it's just going to end when we die. But I know I'm gonna be with my family forever and knowing that makes the family so much more important to me. I'll be with my parents, and my siblings forever, and my future family of my own too. And I love that.

Anywho, I'm having plenty of experiences dealing with drunk people these days. Like the other week we were heading back to Olmos from Motupe, and this super drunk guy was in the car with us. Well, he just started harassing the heck out of the other lady who was in the car, non-stop. He didn't even know her, but he was yelling all kinds of stuff at her. I didn't understand most of it, but Elder Lobato told me he was pretty much saying the worst things he could possibly say to her. At one point he got mad and started trying to attack the driver while he was driving. Are you kidding me? Retarded drunk guy, you're going to kill us! Every day stupid drunk people talk to us and get mad at us and won't leave us alone. In these past few months I have definitely developed an extremely strong hatred towards alcohol. Nobody can ever possibly justify drinking in my eyes after all the horrible crap I've seen alcohol cause as a missionary. It is so, so horrible. I can't stand it. It destroys lives and it destroys families, and I'm sick of seeing it happen.

As far as other stuff goes... Hmm. Oh yeah! Good news! The other week when I went to Chiclayo for Elder Lobato's leader meeting I got to see Elder Choc again! He told me that two of the investigators we were teaching had baptismal dates and I haven't spoken to him since, but by now they should both be baptized. Ahh so awesome! One of them was that lady I kept telling you about who had all those awesome dreams all the time. I met her on my first transfer, and finally four transfers later she's getting baptized. Sometimes we just have to be patient with people. Not everyone is going to hurry up and accept the gospel in a day. It's a process that sometimes takes a long time for some people. So that made me way happy to hear! Coolest news.

I also got one of the coolest pieces of mail ever last week, all the way from Russia! Got a sick letter from my bud Elder Paul who's out there doing some good in Russia. So so so good to hear from him after almost two years! Came complete with a crisp Russian $10 bill, and a photo! Photos are my favorite ever. I would love to get more photos from... anybody. Anyway, that made me way super happy. He's going home so soon! By the time I find some free time to write him back, and then am able to actually get the thing sent out and make it all the way to Russia, Mitchell would probably already be back home. But maybe if I ever do find the time to write I'll send something to Vegas.

I think I might have told you this before, but we're mostly working a lot with the youth here. We have one investigator who's especially awesome. She's a 15 year old girl named Sandy. We're actually teaching her whole family, and her stepmother is super receptive too. But Sandy's way cool, she's super receptive and likes to learn more about the gospel. With some of the youth we're teaching, they're really influenced by all of their friends, who sometimes make fun of them for listening to "the Mormons" and who sometimes say really bad things about our church. Sandy's friends are the same. She told us that her friends say that we're liars and we're just trying to tear down her beliefs and her religion. But she's so cool, because she told us that none of what they say matters, because everything we teach makes so much sense, when we use the Bible, and with videos we might share, and that we always invite her to pray and ask God about what we teach. She tells us she knows that it doesn't matter what her friends say because she knows that what really matters is the answer that she can receive from God. She knows God can tell her what is really the truth. She has a lot of faith. She's honestly our best investigator here right now.

What I would really like to happen down here in Olmos, is to knock on a door and have someone answer it and tell us "Look, sorry, but I'm not interested" or "No, I don't care, go away." Haha. Seriously. When I went out with the missionaries in Eugene, that's what everybody said to us! They were all so honest. But here, people will never say that. What they will do is come up with tons of the dumbest excuses ever for why they can't listen to us. Look, just tell us you're not interested so we can stop wasting our time! One of the funniest things that happened to us this week is that we knocked a door and started talking to these two people, and we asked if we could share something with them and they said "oh yeah, sure!" (okay fine that's not an exact translation from Spanish...) but you could tell they really didn't want anything to do with us, so after that one of them said "yeah, just hold on a second" and they both went back into their house... and never came back out. Haha. That's not even that rare of an occurrence. Lots of times people don't even answer their doors when we knock even though we know they're there. I would love it if someone would just tell us to go away sometime. We get lied to way too much here.

Aight, I gotta get outta here and go do some p-day stuff. But first, here's the news on transfers: I'm staying in Olmos! Elder Lobato is outta here and he's gonna be a Zone Leader in some zone. But, that's not all my friends! I'm now changing from Junior to Senior Companion and I will be finishing the training of a new elder! We have a new 12 week training program that's been around for maybe a year, and so training lasts two transfers. I'll be training an elder on his second transfer. Wow! I'm a trainer! It's like all of my wildest Pokémon dreams are coming true! I can't wait to walk around Olmos, battling my little missionary against all the other missionaries in the mission, gaining experience along the way, pwning (I had to ask Bryn, but she says this is an actual video game term that means ‘owning’--Victor's mom) all the gym leaders and finally defeating the Elite Four of the mission! But yeah, that's what's happening these days. I'll update you on my new comp next week! The change happens tomorrow morning. I'm way excited! For the past while I've been realizing that I lean way too much on my Senior Comp, and I've had the feeling that even though I don't feel ready for it that the best thing for me right now would be to get some more responsibility and possibly even start training. Well, that's exactly what's happening. And no, I don't feel ready for it, but I know it's for the best and I'm way pumped!

Well, that's about it for this week. Another transfer down, another month down. Wow! I love you all okay bye.

- Elder Hemsley

"Segundo's baptism."

 The cross in Motupe.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"I did come up with a great comparison between baptism and Super Mario 64 that I would absolutely love to use in a real teaching situation here..."

So, unfortunate combo for today. I don't have a lotta time to write, and also this is the worst computer I've used since coming to Peru and it freezes up every few seconds it seems like, so we'll see if I can still make this e-mail worth reading with this little obstacle in the way.

Well... uhh... Oh yeah, yesterday was District Conference in Lambayeque! The first Lambayeque District Conference ever because the District was just officially formed yesterday! Olmos has never ever been a part of district or a stake or anything up until yesterday, so this is a big deal! Being part of a district will be a much-needed blessing for the members of Olmos, so that's pretty aweXome.

Uhm. Also... Oh yeah, the mail situation. Well, there's no post office in Olmos, so I have to depend on my two free letters I get to send a month through my zone leaders to send mail these days. Not that I have a lot of mail to send, but now I just have an added restriction. I sent some the other week, so now I gotta wait until I can send more. Also since I never have time to write sometimes it takes me a way super long time to write a single letter (like, multiple weeks sometimes) so sometimes my letters might be getting to you like a bajillion years after you write me. But mostly I'm not sending people letters. Spoiler alert!: I sent out a letter to Elyse the other week, but I sent it to Eugene just because I had no idea when school gets out in Provo and didn't want to send it to an empty apartment. Also that was an unintentional Yellowcard reference. And I'm currently in the process of writing Reyn but who knows when the heck I'm gonna finish the letter, and then on top of that I have to wait forever to send it. But someday I will! Mail is just a silly mess.

Wow I have a severe lack of things to tell you about this week. Maybe its not the worst thing in the world that I'm short on time. I read 1 Nephi 13 during my personal study one day and realized it's probably my favorite chapter in the scriptures. It's the coolest ever! Talking about the Book of Mormon, the discovery of America and the early history of the United States. It's too cool. Nephi was a pretty neat prophet. The scriptures are the greatest.

Today for P-day we went to Motupe to spend the day with the elders there and to hike a mountain to see the famous Cruz de Motupe. It's a cross that's a huge deal here and people worship it. The hike was way mega awesome in terms of prettiness. I got a lot of pictures that I hope I'll be able to show you sometime before the end of the world. The cross was... well, it was a piece of wood. A piece of wood that was made by a man and is now for some reason worshipped by tons of people here. I don't quite get the religious beliefs here. How there are so many people who say they're Christian but they worship inanimate objects more than Jesus Christ and God the Father. I especially don't understand why of all things crosses are a big deal to worship. For one, they are inanimate pieces of wood. Second, the purpose of crosses is to take away a life. It was the weapon used to murder Jesus Christ. And now after so many years the doctrines and beliefs have been so skewed that now people worship these torture devices. People really do worship them. I saw it happen today. People pray to the crosses, and thank the crosses for the blessings and miracles that happen in their lives. Back home when we talk about idolatry in church or something we always have to come up with some obscure way that we can apply it to our lives. Like, I dunno, perhaps the extreme love of money could be compared to a form of idolatry, or the way the people put celebrities on a pedestal. But nah, down here you don't gotta do that. Down here idolatry is an actual thing that is extremely common. It's weird to watch. But I'm not here to judge. Just to share the gospel and teach people about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I don't understand a lot of the beliefs and traditions here, but the people are good people. And the hike was pretty sicktastic and it was one of the better p-days I've had. Haha.

I seriously have nothing to say about this week. Ugh sorry. I did come up with a great comparison between baptism and Super Mario 64 that I would absolutely love to use in a real teaching situation here, except that Nintendo doesn't exist here and nobody would ever understand it. Haha. The scriptures compare baptism to a gate that you enter that will lead you to eternal life. Baptism is not the final step of our salvation, it's more like the first step. It opens the door that allows us to enter the path that leads us to eternal life, and if we're willing to endure to the end and follow that path, then we will eventually reach our goal of returning to live with our Father in Heaven.

The comparison to Mario 64 is this (you have no idea how badly I wish I could use this comparison to teach some kid who loves video games... haha): 

In Super Mario 64 there is a door you can open that leads to the final stage of the game, Bowser In The Sky. In this example, eternal life is comparable to that level, the final Bowser Stage. Which... is a little odd. But just go with it. To open this door you need to collect a certain amount of stars. Collecting the stars and opening the door is like being baptized. But once you go through the door there is a staircase that you have to climb to enter the final Bowser Stage. If you enter right away and start climbing the staircase you'll realize that the stairs never end, and you'll never reach your ultimate goal, even though you've opened the door, or gotten baptized. To actually get to the top of the staircase and enter the Bowser Stage you have to go collect more stars. Once you get 70 you'll finally be able to reach the top of the staircase and go to Bowser. So, like baptism, just because you've been baptized does not mean you automatically receive eternal life. If you get baptized and then just run right up the stairs without putting in any more work, you'll never get anywhere. Without putting in effort after your baptism you will not reach eternal life. You have to endure, and go out and collect those 70 stars to finally reach your goal. Now, when I thought of this comparison I thought it a little strange that I was comparing the final Bowser level to eternal life, because it's basically the most evil part of the game. Haha. But then I realized, it totally works. In the Bowser Stage right by the pipe you enter to actually reach Bowser, there is an extremely easy-to-get 1up, or extra life. If you ever die after that point, you always reappear right next to that extra life. No matter how many times you die, you can always grab that 1-up again, and you'll never get a Game Over. Eternal Life. BAM! Haha. I am the dumbest. If only I was called to the States where some people would understand that comparison. Emphasis on the word "some." I also have a great comparison of how a mission is like Zelda: Majora's Mask (I would...) that I thought of a long time ago during my first transfer in Pacasmayo. I don't have time to share that one, but maybe someday I will.

I was hoping I'd be able to send you some pictures this time, because I haven't for the past few weeks, but with this computer it's impossible. Plus I don't have time to do it. Sorry this is pretty much the worst e-mail I've ever sent. I'll try to send a better one next week. We won't be coming back to this internet cafe again, so hopefully we'll get to use better computers next time. I wish I remembered some of the questions you've asked me in your letters so I could at least respond to some of those, but I don't remember, and I'm outta time. So, until next week amigos! Transfers are also next week, so I'll know about that on Monday too. See ya!

-Elder Hemsley

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Life in Olmos is hot, hot, hot!! Way mega hot. Super Mega Ultra Metal Hot."

Hoy, Small Fry! I don't know where you got your mitts on that Sea Chart you got there... But it looks to me like its pretty much got nothing but seas drawn on it! It's pathetic! In fact, it's almost an insult to call that thing a Sea Chart, if you ask me! What's the matter, small fry? I'm just trying to be nice here! I'm telling you you've got a problem. And you do. Don't give me that stupefied look! It makes you look like you oughta be in diapers!

Okay, fine, my memory isn't that good. I had to Google that quote.  (Note from Victor’s mom: We had to look this one up – apparently it is from Zelda…)

But for realz, Hoy Small Fry/Fries!

Life in Olmos is hot, hot, hot!! Way mega hot. Super Mega Ultra Metal Hot. MaloMyotismon. (?? We’re not quite sure what that means.)  Really, it's sorta ridiculous. And it's not normal either. People are telling us that by now it should be getting cooler, but this past week has been the hottest it's been by far! Y'know, I was stoked to get my mission call to a hot part of the world, b'cuz, I like the hot! But what I didn't take into account were two things. One, I like the hot when I get to wear shorts and a t-shirt. Not when I get to wear long black pants, and long black socks, and a tucked in button up shirt with a collar and tie that traps all the heat inside with no hope of a breeze ever getting through. And two, I like the hot when I can go inside my house, or any other building, at any time, and be treated to a most delicious dose of beautiful air conditioning. Air condition does not exist here. Only in the mission office, and in the giant institute building in Chiclayo. Oooh boy, I don't like the heat under these conditions. But when I get back home, bring on the heat!! Oh wait I'm going right to Rexburg which is the coldest place in the entire world and will feel 1000000x colder coming directly from Peru.

Anywayz, I did some missionary stuff this week. Like... this one day I read the scriptures. Well, I do that all the time actually. We had a baptism this past week too which was awesome. It was for a brother named Segundo (translated that means "second"... I don't know why, but it's a common name here. Was he the second son or something? The second best looking baby? I dunno.) and he's way cool. Also basically the only one of our investigators that can even be baptized because he's basically the only one who doesn't have Law of Chastity issues. Which is a huge breath of fresh air by the way! So that was way cool. We do have this one other investigator who is way, way awesome. His name is Juan. Everyone's name is Juan. We call him Juan José. Anyway I've barely ever visited with him because during the week he lives in Chiclayo and he only comes to Olmos for the weekends. Elder Lobato started teaching him with his last companion before I got transferred to Olmos, and he told me that at first Juan José had tons of doubts, and had a really hard time believing or accepting anything they would teach. Well, he's come a long way. A really long way considering we never even get to visit him! We got to visit with him on Sunday, and it was only the second time I've ever taught him, and the first time was for like ten minutes. Well, the lesson was way awesome. And not because of what we taught, but because of the things he told us. Without us even bringing up the word "baptism" Juan told us that he wants to be baptized. That's a first for me! He also told us that he wants to be cleaned of sin, and that he wants an eternal marriage. Whoa! He's been dating a member for the past three months and he's changed so much in that period of time, and he's noticed it. None of our investigators even want a regular marriage, and he's not even a member of the Church and he wants a temple marriage! So he's the coolest. He's also way fun to talk to. The other day he said to me "you said you're from Orange, right?" Uhh... I just thought to myself uhh... I don't think I ever said that... I'm pretty sure that I've never once said to anyone in my entire life ever that I'm from Orange, California, although I wouldn't be lying if I did. Nah I definitely told him I'm from Oregon. Well, then I found out that he lived in Los Angeles for three years, so he knows Southern California fairly well, so I guess when I told him I was from Oregon he forgot and his mind automatically went to a name that was similar and something he was more familiar with. Haha, funny coincidence though. I think I confused him when after I found out he lived in LA I told him that actually I was born in Orange. Haha.

Other fun thing this week: Thursday morning we went to Chiclayo because Elder Lobato had to go to a leadership training (he's District Leader... every single one of my comps in the field has been District Leader. Two of my MTC comps were District Leaders too! What is God preparing me for?? Haha) and so while he was at that I went on divisions with two other elders in Chiclayo. Elder Samame who's from Panama, and Elder Martin, who's from Utah. Everyone and their dog is from Utah. Well, they're both way cool guys. Elder Samame just barely started his mission. Elder Martin has one transfer less than me. Which means once again I was the one with the most experience on the splits. That's a weird feeling. But at least Elder Samame was fluent in the language, and Elder Martin was a way good worker too. Got to work in an area of Chiclayo called Santa Victoria, which is one of the richest parts of the city. Possibly the richest? I dunno. So incredibly different than Olmos. And Pacasmayo. So different than anywhere I've been so far. Way cool to experience something new like that. I'll try to describe what the area was like... Basically, take the oldest, ugliest, crappiest part of Eugene, and make it way, way bigger, and maybe throw in a few palm trees here or there. That's what some parts of it were like. Other parts looked like a sketchier version of Newport Beach or something. And then other parts were nothing like anything I've ever seen and can't really compare it to anywhere I know. I kind of made it sound way crappy, but really it was way cool. Well, when Elder Lobato's meeting was over I went back to the institute building, only to find out that I was gonna stay in Chiclayo for the night with Elder Martin because of some not-that-confusing situation that I don't feel like explaining. So that was cool! Minus the fact that I didn't know ahead of time and didn't bring anything to stay overnight. I got to hear some of the General Conference talks with him in his room. He has all the audio. I really liked what I heard. Didn't hear too much though. Elder Eyring's talk on trials was way awesome. Elder Eyring is always one of my favorites. I'll get to watch Conference eventually. They're sending us Conference on DVD to watch here in Olmos. There is probably about a 2% milk chance that they will also send it in English though, so I prob won't get to enjoy it to the fullest. Can you imagine watching a talk by Elder Holland but having his voice dubbed over?? Not the same. At least I'll get to see it in some form. Of course the only General Conference I've ever missed in my entire life just happens to be the 182nd Conference. God won't even let me come close to anything that has to do with blink-182, even if in reality it has nothing to do with them. Haha.

Oh yeah, funny thing! Last week we went to Motupe, and we got in the car at the carport or whatever you'd call it, and we were waiting for the car to fill so we could leave, and this old man gets in the car next to us. He looks for one of the employees at the carport and says to him "Gordito! How long is the trip to Motupe?" Calling him "gordito" honestly is just calling him "fat." The "-ito" ending makes it more endearing and friendly, but still, if you translate it directly into English the translation would be "Hey fat guy! How long is this trip?" Or "Hey fatty!" Haha. Not rude or offensive in any way here. Just funny to me because it doesn't translate well into English. Basically the old man reminded me exactly of how I talk to my siblings all the time. Especially to my fat sisters! Lolz. I miss you guys. But you're fat!

Funny Victor's Life Trivia: Today marks the one-year anniversary of the last date I ever went on. LOLOL. Wow that's weird though. I don't even remember what girls are! I don't normally remember exact dates like today like that, but what I do usually remember is dates of concerts I've been too. For example, the first concert I ever went too was to see Angels & Airwaves on December 6th, 2006 in Eugene. The second concert was also to see Angels on March 7th, 2008. All Time Low came later that year on November 6th. I saw blink-182 on 09.09.09, which is also the day the hit movie I never saw "9" came out. I saw Dashboard Confessional in New York on March 26th, 2010, and I the last concert I went to before my mish was blink-182 again on September 1st of last year. Haha. That's just some. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of when I went to see Yellowcard in Portland with my best pal Reyn Hiroshi. April 17th. The day before that I went on my last date with a girl I didn’t know in Washington, with my other best pal Aaron Hunter. Mark it on your calendars for next year: April 16th: Two years without girls! Haha. That really is a super weird thought for me. The year has gone by pretty quick. The mission is speeding up faster and faster. My first transfer felt like two years. I feel like I should have already been done with my mission because of how slow it went. But my second transfer flew by, my third went even faster, and this one is going crazy fast as well. I feel like I just barely talked to you guys on the phone not that long ago, and now I'm less than a month away from calling you again. So weird! Before I know it I'll be back at home drinking infinity cans of Mountain Dew and watching The Emperor's New Groove 24/7!!!

Anyway, when I start talking about girls in my e-mails that's probably a pretty good sign that I've run out of things to say for now. You guys are my favorites. Never ever ever stop being so radical! I miss you all, including my fat siblings. Chao!

-Elder Victor Paul

Monday, April 9, 2012

"I'm just sitting here in Peru watching funny people walk by taking their pet goat on a walk. Haha."

Hi home!

What's up? Oh cool. Me too.

Just hanging out in Peru with Elder Lobato. All is well with me. Had a pretty good week, partially ruined by the letters I received from my family informing me that they were in California. Haha, well, not really. But I wanna go! No fair. I'm really feeling a trip to Comic-Con right about now. Or Legoland. Actually yes, Legoland! Also I have to go back to Disneyland and ride Star Tours 2 like 9,670 more times to see all the possible combinations of different scenes of the ride. You guys aren't fair. 

I'm just sitting here in Peru watching funny people walk by taking their pet goat on a walk. Haha. Also in Olmos there are pigs everywhere that just walk the streets. So that's... different. The culture shock never really goes away to be honest. You get used to some stuff, but it's all still so much different than anything I've ever known or ever imagined. I still find myself having trouble believing that this is real life. This is nothing like the real life I've always known. This is fake life. This isn't even real. What am I doing?? Oh yeah, serving the Lord.

Got your Easter package. Thank-a-you! I was really needing some more Warheads so you pretty much saved my life. And thanks for not sending chocolate, because as much as I love chocolate (which is a lot) it's not the funnest thing to eat when its 310 degrees Kelvin and the chocolate is closer to a liquid than solid. Though that Symphony bar you sent me for my birthday (or maybe it was Christmas... I dunno, I didn't get it on my birthday or Christmas) was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten in my entire life. I forgot how much I love those. Thanks for the magazines too. Thank you thank you!! Speaking of reading, I finished reading Jesus the Christ this week. It took me like six months to read. Way, way good though! That book is just overflowing with information and it's way awesome. However now I've read the entire approved mission library and I'm outta stuff to read. I've read Our Search for Happiness twice already. Now I'm gonna work on trying to finish the New Testament which I've been reading at an incredibly slow rate. And the Book of Mormon in Spanish. But I really don't like it in Spanish. It's over 100 pages longer in Spanish, and it has less footnotes! I’d rather read it in English again.

Pretty good week. 'Twas Holy Week. And unlike back home where Holy Week comes and goes without anyone (or maybe just me... I dunno. I'm ignorant of holidays that don't include days off school) noticing, it's a big deal here! And all week long they play tons of movies of Bible stories and stuff on basically every channel. One day Elder Lobato and I thought it would be a good idea to go buy a Bible movie to watch, so we found one of the little shops that sells DVDs (everywhere only sells pirated DVDs. I've never seen legal DVDs here. Ever.) and we asked if they had anything for Holy Week. The lady pulled out two discs that each had five movies on them. That's how all the movies come here. 5 in 1. We bought one that had movies of Jeremiah and David, but they're not too good and it was a waste of less than one dollar. But the other disc was awesome. It was another 5 in 1 Bible movies disc. But this was what it had: three movies about Sampson, and one about Hercules. Oh yeah my favorite part of the Bible is the Book of Hercules! Hahaha. It was called "Hercules: The Avenger." I wonder how it compares to "Captain America: The First Avenger." Probably a little bit worse.

This week Elder Lobato and I had a way sick awesome Mission Night activity planned for the branch and our investigators. We really had a really great plan, and it should have turned out awesome. The thing is, it started at 7:30. At 8:15 there were only like five people there. Then at 8:30 finally a lot of people showed up. But it was too late so we cut the activity way short. Ugh, I will never be able to adjust to this culture's sense of time. Punctuality does not exist and it does not matter here. But the thing is, it does matter, and there are a lot of problems because nobody thinks it matters. But on the plus side, we had a lot of investigators come to church this week! 8 investigators, which is way more than I've ever had come before. Coolios julios!

One funny thing this week. We had a few minutes to kill before our next appointment one day so we decided to knock a door and make a contact. A lady answered the door who was super awesome and way nice and willing to listen to us. After a short visit we scheduled a return visit. Elder Lobato asked her what the name of the street she lived on was, and her answer was "uh... to be honest, I don't know." Haha. Seriously? And she'd lived there for over two years. That's like when you prank call Papa John's and order a pizza and then when they ask you what your address is you tell them that you forgot but then go ahead trying to explain where you live by saying things like "well... I live by a big tree..." Haha. It's really hard to find people here sometimes because the addresses are so confusing, and some people don't even have addresses, and then some people don't even know where they live. Haha.

Something really sad happened too. One of our investigators tried to commit suicide this week. A thirteen year old girl! We've been visiting these kids for a while who live with their grandma. The thirteen year old is the oldest of five siblings, and she basically plays the role of the mom. Their mom lives in Argentina working, and their dad lives in Olmos but they have no relation with him after their parents had a messy divorce. Well the mom has been visiting for a short time, and it's about time for her to go back to Argentina. The little girl did not want her to go, or at least wanted her mom to take her and her siblings to Argentina to live with her. Plus, arrangements were made for her and her siblings to go live with their dad instead. The girl is overwhelmed with responsibility and really depressed, and I guess that was just too much for her. She tried to poison herself. Luckily, it didn't work. Though she is really sick. I just can't even believe it. That is not normal for a girl so young to think of something like that to be a solution to her problems. She really needs the love of her parents but they're never there and leave so much responsibility on her at such a young age (their grandma is really old and sick and can't really do anything to take care of them). It's super sad. She's such an amazing girl too. So loving and so responsible. Always looking out for her little siblings. And she reminds me of Jacqueline too. I just... I dunno. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to see all the horrible things that happen in this world. Sometimes I just want to go back to my little safe bubble at home where all I have to worry about is trying to save the world on my TV in 72 hours or less; or I wish I was back in high school where by biggest concern was having to write a paper on a book that I never read. Not having to deal with broken families, alcoholism, and suicidal little kids. It breaks my heart. She is getting better though. But I just can't get over how something like that could even happen. She's only thirteen years old. I'm worried about her.

Aside from that, things have been alright here in Olmos. Continuing to learn how to deal with weak branches of the Church and trying to do what I can to help strengthen them. In an Ensign I was reading recently Elder Dallin H. Oaks said the Church needs leaders who are third or fourth generation members of the Church to really strengthen and progress. That's the problem here. Everyone is a first generation convert. So it's a little rough right now, but we're busy planting seeds and laying down a foundation so that someday the Church can grow into something truly great here in Olmos, and here in Peru. You have to start somewhere. Sometimes I need to remind myself that these people don't have the generations of strong Church membership in their families like I do. These people are just barely starting to know the Gospel, and really with that considered, they're doing amazing. Not everyone has family in the Church dating back to the days of Joseph Smith like I do. And a majority of these people don't have any family in the Church at all. I always need to remember to put things into perspective. It allows me to love the people more, instead of getting frustrated with them all the time.

Speaking of family in the Church, Mom, those stories you sent me of our family were way, way awesome. The article in the Liahona about the General Authority who Grandpa baptized, and the miracle that happened when Great Grandpa Paul was ordained a Patriarch by then-future prophet and president of the Church, Harold B. Lee. I never knew those stories. It made me appreciate my strong family foundation in this Gospel so much more. I'd love to read more stories like that. Maybe if anyone in our family has any especially cool mission stories, I'd love to read them.

Last night I had a dream that I was back at home. It was weird. I was halfway done with my mission, but President Risso had to send me back home to the United States to sign some papers or something that for some reason I couldn't do in Peru. Haha. I was going to come back to Peru, but I had a short time to spend at home first. My first thought was that I wanted to go to the temple, because I can't do that here because the Lima temple is a million hours away and the Trujillo temple is still under construction. My second thought was to buy tons of candy that they don't sell here in Peru. Bought some Snickers and Almond Joys and a butt load of chocolates. Mmmm!! But in my dream I didn't eat them. Sad. Then I was hanging out with Keegan, and we were on our way to go chill with all my best Eugene budz except I woke up before that happened. The dream made me realize how much I want to go back to the temple, and also made me a little homesick. I miss you guys! I miss my friends a ton. I love hearing from you guys, even if I'm the worst ever at getting back to you. I wrote the first letter I've written to anyone (other than my fam) since December last Monday. Writing letters doesn't happen, but it always makes me smile to get a surprise letter from a friend. You guys are the greatest.

I guess yesterday was Easter, eh? Well, the weird thing is, even though I just told you that Holy Week is a big deal here, there was nothing Eastery about yesterday. The messages in Church weren't even Easter related so I didn't even remember it was Easter until last night after we got back to our room and I looked at my calendar. I guess I spent Easter doing what I should have been doing though. Teaching people about Christ. In the Christian world we see so many crosses, so many symbols and reminders of the death of Jesus Christ, but Easter is special, because it's a day we have to remember and celebrate His resurrection. Christ lives. He still lives today. He still guides His church, and He still talks to us. Jesus Christ lived and died for us so that one day we can return to live with our Heavenly Father and our families forever in eternal happiness. Jesus Christ conquered death so that one day we could do the same. That's just a part of the message that we get to share with people on a daily basis. Christ lives. Christ loves us. Christ is my Savior, and because of what He did for me I now have the opportunity to experience all the blessings that my Father has prepared for me. The reason I'm here is to help others recognize that too and to take advantage of the incredible blessings we receive from Christ's Atonement for us. Our message is all about Him.

I hope you're all having a good time eating eggs and chocolates. I'm having a good time too. I hope I can help some people this week. I hope you can do the same. Love you a lot! Talk to you later dewdz.

-Elder Hemsley

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Wasn't General Conference awesome??...I mean, was it? I wouldn't know."

Whoa hey there!

Still surviving in Peru. Wasn't General Conference awesome??... I mean, was it? I wouldn't know. We didn't get to watch Conference here. For realz, I didn't see it. There was no way for us to get the live feed out here. Laaame. I wasn't too thrilled about seeing it in Spanish though anyway. I'd like the Conference edition of the Ensign in English when that comes out please. Thank you so much. <3

Olmos continues to be more busy and a more rewarding experience than Pako was. Every day is filled with appointments. We always have plenty of people to go visit, and that is a heck of a lot more fun than tracting for hours and hours finding nobody. Anywayz, the work here is going good. Well... I guess in terms of visits it's going good. The problem is that hardly anyone we're visiting can progress because everyone in the world is living together unmarried.

Anyway, as far as awkward missionary experiences go, teaching the Law of Chastity to an 18 year old who is pregnant and a 19 year old who is nursing her one year old right in front of us ranks pretty high up there on the list. Both are members of the church too. Though inactive. All the youth here have all fallen in chastity problems. And basically all of the young women are moms. Great. Being a kid you look at moms, and they're old people (haha, sorry moms). They're adults. They're all grown up, and they're way bigger and older and smarter than you are. Well now here I am and I'm all the sudden older than all the moms. What happened? I'm still a kid. I seriously feel like I should still be in high school. It's sad to see. I'm just so happy I grew up with this system of values and beliefs. I always knew it was a blessing before, but now that I've been thrown out into the world and see all the absolutely horrible things that come from breaking the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity up close it's really horrifying stuff and I'm just so glad that because of my faith I've never even been tempted to fall into something like that. Ugh, the other night we were walking back to our room, saw a way drunk guy sitting on the curb, and as we walked by we saw him get up, walk into his house, and start yelling at and hitting his wife. I never really realized the full extent of the blessings and protection I've received from keeping these commandments.

I've been living in constant itchiness because of the bajillions of bug bites I'm getting. I will probably acquire all kinds of exotic diseases during my stay here, and will probably die like 30 times. Not the funnest. But I've started spraying my ankles and knees with repellant, because that seems to always be where its the worst. Especially my ankles. Ouch.

Well my penchant here is pretty awesome. We go to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day with a way cool family. The mom is named Rosa, and she lives at home with her four kids, who are all great. Her husband is in Iraq working. I talked to him for like two seconds via Skype. I like him, because his name is Victor. My name is... Elder Hemsley. So our names are pretty similar. The name Victor is by far one of the most common names I've heard in Peru. Probably second only to Juan, which is the name of basically every other man. But anyway the fam is way awesome and I can already tell I'm gonna miss them a whole lot whenever I leave here. Got lucky! Food's pretty good too. Honestly what I really don't like here are the drinks. I don't really like any of the drinks we get here (not only in Olmos, in every part of Peru including the MTC). Most I can handle, but some are just so... gross. Sometimes I barely drink anything at meals and then go back to our room and down tons of water through my dumb filtered water bottle. Or I buy soda. A personal favorite choice of mine. But I don't like spending money because we don't have too much of that stuff.

Elder Lobato is pretty way rad! We get along really well. We laugh and joke around so much. Way more than with my past companions. We're always laughing about something. His sense of humor is similar to mine, only translated into español, so that's a lot of fun. We're also having a good time using my Dog Dazer you sent me to annoy the heck out of every single dog (and every other animal we see) in Olmos. I am convinced that one day these animals are all going to figure out what's happening and they're all going to gang up on us and kill us one day. But until then, the annoying shall continue! That thing has saved us from a few angry dogs too. Although some of them were angry because we dazed them. Haha.

Olmos actually has branch missionaries called which is pretty cool because Pacasmayo had nothing like that. And they're calling more soon. Way super, man! Word. This branch has its share of problems, but at least we have a little more support than before. At least this branch has its meetings, even if they're the worst thing in the world to attend (went to branch council yesterday, just a bunch of arguing for two hours with no progress being made). I am enjoying it. Though Elder Lobato says this is the worst branch he's ever served in. Haha.

Well, I gotta go right about now. I do miss you guys, and I miss my dog (first person to even think an "I Miss My Horse" joke will be killed upon my arrival in Eugene in 1.5 years). Speaking of I Miss My Horse jokes (is it okay to reference things that were in parenthesis outside of parenthesis?) I really really a whole heck of a lot miss being up on stage having you guys sing my songs back to me. I don't remember how to play guitar or how to sing, but I plan to learn promptly upon my return. I thought a lot (too much) about how much I miss making and playing music with my best friends and I can't wait to get back and do that again. Well... I can wait. I just wish I could be doing this and that at the same time.

Okay, bye to the max! Thanks for being cool. All that matters is being cool. Remember that, and you will make it far in life!

-Elder Victor "Gives the Worst Advice Ever" Hemsley