Anyway, this has been one busy week. It involved a lot of waiting in lines at the bank, waiting in lines at stores buying supplies for the mission, waiting for the pages I have to use on the internet to load so I can do my job (slow internet...), and waiting for Stake Conference to start (and even worse, waiting for it to end!!). But I'll skip all the boring stories I could tell you, and get right to the good stuff.
Good stuff number 1: Maria got baptized!! On Thursday Elder Choc came to interview her, and on Friday the baptism happened. So good! However, it's a baptism in Peru, so, this story would not be complete, nor honest, if I didn't go on to explain the problems and stresses that occurred that night. A stress-free baptism in Peru? Ha, that's hilarious. Never gonna happen. So, we show up at Maria's house to pick her up for her own baptism. She answers the door, and she's sick with a fever! She says she's not sure if she's gonna be able to go. Gahh! Seriously? But she really did want to get baptized so she said she would finish up her dinner and get ready and see how she feels. We left to go get some other things done in the meantime, including heading to the church because Elder Choc and Elder Castillo were gonna drop off baptismal clothing for us to use. So we go to the church, and Choc and Castillo are there with the clothes, and they're gonna stick around for the baptism! Okay, sweet. So Elder Navas and Elder Castillo head back out to go pick up Maria (I can't remember why we did it like that) and I stuck around with Elder Choc while we waited. Well, we ended up waiting a whole lot longer than I would have expected, and it was getting to the point where I was assuming that Maria felt too sick to come and that the baptism wasn't gonna happen. But, finally, the three of them showed up. Thank goodness! Maria still wasn't feeling super great but she wanted to get baptized. So, the baptism starts (late, but I've stopped expecting things to start on time here...), and things go pretty smooth. I gave a short message, and Elder Navas baptized Maria. She was super afraid of the water, but her faith overcame her fear, and she got in and got dunked. She was so scared though! Haha. This weekend was Stake Conference, and so Maria couldn't get confirmed in sacrament meeting, so we were just gonna confirm her right after her baptism. However, there was one little problem, and it was that the bishop was going to do it, but the bishop never even showed up!! That meant we had to find someone else to do it. Luckily, there were four missionaries there and a couple of other Melchizedek Priesthood holders. Elder Navas asked our Mission Leader to do it, but he babied out and was like "no, you! No, you!!" Well, Elder Navas just baptized her and thought someone else should do it, so he asked me to. Huh?? I've never done that before!! But obviously I couldn't say no. I just never expected to have to do this on the mission, because almost always it’s the bishop or branch president who does it. So, I did a light-speed review of how to give someone the Gift of the Holy Ghost and confirm them, and then I did it. Yes, for the first time in my life I got to confirm someone a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and said unto them, "receive the Holy Ghost." Totally unexpected, but a very special experience. So, apart from the unavoidable stresses of having a baptism in Peru, things worked out as they always do, and it was a good experience for everyone. That was the highlight of the week. Maria was so prepared to take this step in her life. As we were teaching her commandments and stuff, and we'd ask her to keep these commandments, she was always like "I already keep all of these commandments!" Haha. She was telling us about how even though she wasn't a member of the church yet, how she had a For the Strength of Youth booklet, and how she was trying to follow all the standards in that booklet. The one sad thing is that she has absolutely no support whatsoever from her family. Her mom and her brother are both members of the church (though inactive) and not a single member of her family came to support her at her baptism. She's only sixteen, but she knows what's most important. After she got baptized she shared a really great testimony, and we can just tell that her faith is so strong.
We also have this kid we're visiting named Peter. He's eight years old and he's been coming to church with his grandma who's a member. Peter is awesome, because Peter has stronger faith then almost anyone else I've ever met in my life. Peter knows that God listens to and answers our prayers, and Peter trusts in his Heavenly Father so much. He told us during our first visit that he would pray about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, knowing that God would answer his prayer to let him know if these things were true. The next Sunday at church, he told us he prayed about it, and he felt feelings of happiness, and peacefulness, and he knew his prayer was answered. During another visit he was telling us about experiences he's had where he's received answers to his prayers. We were talking about the Plan of Salvation and about how this life can be hard and sad but God has promised us so many blessings if we do our best. Peter told us about one time when he said he felt sad at school. He told us that he had lost his notebook with all of his assignments in it, and he was worried because his teacher was going to make him get a new notebook and redo everything. He looked and looked but he couldn't find it, and so he decided to say a prayer and ask his Heavenly Father for help. He said that God listened to him and right after that he found his notebook. Cool huh? This kid is eight years old!! He's the greatest. Well, then we found out that his mom is actually a member of the church, though inactive. Peter wants to be baptized though, and his mom thinks it’s a good idea too. She came to church with Peter this last Sunday. He's going to get baptized soon!
We were in the office a whole ton this week, so we didn't get to do a lot outside of office work, but we did manage to find time to go out and be missionaries for a little bit. One new thing we tried that was kinda fun this week, was that one day Elder Navas and I went to the Parque Infantil (this big park in the middle of our area) and left two Books of Mormon sitting out in different spots, with scriptures marked inside, our testimonies written in them, and directions to the church and our meeting times. So, we have no idea what happened to those two books, and likely we will never know. Possibly they ended up in the trash. But maybe they can be of help to someone! Kind of a fun thing to do. Gotta mix things up sometimes because tracting can be pretty stale pretty quick. However, while tracting this week, we knocked on the door of these inactive members, without knowing it, and we talked to this lady who was a member of the church but hasn't been going in a long time, and I heard what is probably the best excuse of all time for why someone stopped going to church. You ready for this? She said that she stopped going to church, because she has a daughter who is kind of fat, and one day at church this one old lady said that she thought her fat daughter was pregnant, and that was offensive, so she hasn't gone to church since. Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Classic.
Among the more annoying experiences of the week was on Saturday, when Elder Navas and I had to go out and buy fans for some of the missionaries who either don't have fans in their rooms, or their fans broke. We went to this place called Real Plaza, which is a huge shopping mall, and a place that normally missionaries aren't allowed to go, because all it is is stores and obviously we're not going to be able to share the gospel too well over there. But, sometimes for us in the office, we have to go buy things for the mission that they don't sell anywhere else, so we got to go. We went to go buy fans in this one store, and let me just say that the way you have to buy things here in Peru is ridiculous. You have to talk to like five different people in five different parts of the store to buy something. First you have to talk to someone to tell them what you want to buy, then they give you a receipt that you have to take to this other person who's in a totally different area of the store, and then you have to go to another part of the store to go pick up what you want to buy, but you have to wait a long time for the person there to go to another part of the store to get all the things you're buying and bring them down. Seriously? I can't just pick what I want and then go find the nearest cashier and pay for it and leave? No. Well, anyways, we got stuck on that last step for a super long time. The last guy you talk to who has to go get what you want to buy and bring it to you while you wait there. He didn't understand the receipt, and he kept bringing us the wrong stuff, and then even when he had everything we needed, he still wasn't sure, and had to do a ton of stuff on his computer, and we waited, and waited, and waited, for seriously like two hours, until we told him we were going to go out and buy something else and come back in a few minutes. So, we went to go do what we really came to do: to eat lunch at McDonald's. There is only one McDonald's in the entire Peru Chiclayo mission, and it’s in Real Plaza. So we left, bought some McD's, and then went back to pick up our stuff, which was finally ready. The only dumb thing is that McDonald's is more expensive here. And it’s not just because the price looks a lot higher in soles than in dollars, although that also bothers me. It hurt to hand over a 20 sole bill to buy me a meal. I felt like I was spending 20 dollars at McDonald's. Not that I haven't done that before, but still. I was going to buy more food, but the price in soles was looking too ridiculous I couldn't handle it. But it really is more expensive though. The "dollar menu" here is like the equivalent of $1.50, so that's no good. It still tasted good though. You're gonna have to get used to me making a huge deal of every time I get to eat McDonald's while I'm out here. Later that night those of us in the office came back here to watch the rebroadcast of President Monson's 85th birthday celebration that was in the conference center on Friday. We hooked up a computer to the TV and watched it on there. Dragged in a big ol' couch into the office from the waiting room and watched it as we ate burgers and drank Coke. Fun times. P.S., before you think we're the worst missionaries ever, President Risso told us (all of the missionaries in the mission) that we should watch it. K thanks.
Sunday was Stake Conference, and it was not that great, because it started a half hour late, and the talks lasted like forty minutes each, and by the time the conference was supposed to be over, there were still two hymns left, two testimonies, and one more talk. I was dying in my seat waiting for it to end. Oh gosh. I can't handle church meetings that go over the hour or two hours they're supposed to last.
Next weekend is a big stake temple trip that they've been planning and announcing for the past forever. Last night we were talking to the bishop, and he told us that they just called the temple, and they found out that the temple is booked full next weekend, and it looks like they're probably not going to be able to go. This was not announced in Stake Conference. All the members in the stake have plans to go, and nobody has any idea that it's probably not happening. Seriously, they've been announcing this trip forever, and nobody ever thought to actually book a reservation at the temple??? Hahahahahaha. Oh gosh. It's a struggle here.
Today for P-day our zone (Chiclayo Central) went to go play soccer against my old zone, Lambayeque. Our zone got jerseys made with our names on them and everything and basically we were super cool. I got pretty burnt. Sadly for some reason we didn't take a photo of our zone with our jerseys. I don't know why. But I still have mine and it's pretty neat. Aside from the shorts that are way too short. Hahaha.
Oh yeah! And one last highlight of the week! One night I bought two baguettes because they were cheap and I like me some french bread. That night when we got back to the room, I wasn't sure what to eat for dinner, but then I got this brilliant idea! I had also bought some peanut butter and jelly the other week, which I hadn't used yet. I cut my baguette hot dog style, covered one half with peanut butter, and one half with jelly, making the biggest and most epic PB+J you've ever seen. Everyone thought I wasn't going to be able to eat it, but I totally finished the whole thing. Ha! So tasty. After that everyone decided PB+J sounded good, so everyone else started making their PB+J sandwiches. Elder Chero had never had one before (peanut butter is not a common thing here), so he made one and totally ate a PB+J sandwich for the first time in his entire life!! One of those things you never expect to witness. A twenty year old eating his first peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Haha. The mission is full of firsts.
Sounds like you guys had a pretty awesome time in California. Saw a ton of movies and did some beaching. Still waiting to hear if you went to D-land. You know how badly I miss the beach right now?! A lot. But not the Oregon coast. I miss warm beaches. Did you see Spider-man??? PLEASE TELL ME HOW IT WAS. But if you tell me spoilers I might kill you. Speaking of things I want to know about, I haven't heard a single thing yet about the new Zelda game which isn't even new anymore. Please someone please tell me if it’s any good!! I only waited like five years for that game to come out! But anywayz, you guys can keep telling me about all the fun stuff you do. I don't mind. It doesn't hurt my feelings too bad that you're having fun without me. I like to know what you're up to. Even if I almost died when mom listed all the fun stuff you guys were doing down in Cali. It’s okay, I recovered shortly after. I like hearing about your trips. And Jacqueline's letters are super funny. And wait just a darn second!! Gretchen is engaged??!?! Last thing I remember was you telling me that you were in Utah with the Balkmans at a dinner with Gretchen's boyfriend's family, and then in this past letter you said something about Gretchen and her fiance. ajsdlfkjañskldjfaskldf!! Well, congrats Gretchen!! How is this even possible? Gretchen's my little cousin! Why is everyone growing up so fast without me? I'm not ready to be an adult yet. Not even. I feel like on the mission I've grown up a ton, but like... in a different way. Spiritually, maybe. But not like, for realz... But heck no, when I get back home I'm going back to eight hours of Digimon a day and drawing in Star Wars coloring books. Not growing up yet. Real life can wait a bit.
Alright, I gotta go. I have some work to do. Mom, don't count on me wanting to be an accountant after this. No thank you. I'm set on becoming a trucker. Seriously, have you seen their hats?!?!?!
Until next week!
Over the past two weeks Victor sent a ton of new pictures. I have finally uploaded them and you can see them by clicking on the slideshow at the top of this blog. Here are some of our favorites:
"Taking a bite out of my goodbye cake. This is a gross tradition that usually ends up with your face getting smashed into the cake by somebody else. Luckily, I was spared."
"My work space."
"View from my new room."
"Epic PB+J part 2."
"Service one day. You have no idea how many weird looks we got working outside on a house in our white shirts and ties. Hahaha."
"DIE, DIE, DIE!!!"
"Other service. Burning active wasps nests!"