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

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