Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Still kind of blows my mind that I'm being trusted to do stuff like this... Planning the year's budget for the mission? I don't know the first thing about planning a budget. Especially not on such a huge scale! "

¡Hola familia!

Still not dead.

Well, this was a good week if I do say so myself. Lots of good things happened. For one, yesterday during church, I finally finished reading El Libro de Mormón en español!! I started reading it in like October or something stupid. But I finished! Woo! The Book's almost as true in Spanish as it is in English. Hehehe.

This week I got to go to my first ever Zone Leader's meeting. These happen every month. I'm not a Zone Leader, but all the office guys get to go every time. We have a short time to talk to the Zone Leaders about whatever, giving them suggestions to help make our assignments easier. Basically, telling them what they're doing wrong. Haha. But that was kinda cool. Elder Despain and Elder Choc are ZL's so I got to see them, and I know a ton of the other ZL's too, so it's fun to see all of them. Then we all went out to eat lunch at this place called Norky's, which is basically this fast food chicken place. It's pretty good I guess.

Life as the financial secretary is muy diferente than before. Most of what I have to do involves working with the Zone Leaders every week, going over their weekly spendings and answering their questions 'n stuff. Every week I have to give a report to President Risso of what we've spent as a mission. I get to enjoy solving problems when somebody doesn't get the money they were supposed to get, or when all kinds of other problems occur. Some days I don't have a ton to do, other days are ridiculous! For example, on Tuesday, Elder Navas and I were pretty much done with what we had to do for the day, and we were getting reading to go out and do some prime teaching, until we received an e-mail from the area asking the financial secretary to plan the mission's budget for 2013, and that it had to be done and sent in by Thursday. Well, on Wednesday morning President Risso was going to Cajamarca, and so basically we just had one night to do the whole thing. Elder Navas and I stayed in the office until like 8:00pm working on it. Then, early the next morning, President Risso came to review it real quick before leaving. He said that we did a great job and that it all looked good. Thank goodness!! So, that was kind of stressful. Still kind of blows my mind that I'm being trusted to do stuff like this... Planning the year's budget for the mission? I don't know the first thing about planning a budget. Especially not on such a huge scale! But, like I said before, everything always works out somehow.

Anywayz, its not uncommon for a missionary to be in the office for like six months or so. President Risso made a comment that I would likely be here until December. But really, who knows. Every transfer is a surprise. Elder Navas is probably gonna go next transfer because this is his fourth transfer here. Interesante.

Friday was a good day. On Friday, we stopped by to see Maria, who I told you about last week. We were all waiting for her to finally get permission to be baptized from her dad. The thing is, he's super stubborn and doesn't even want to talk to us. Maria told us that most likely she wouldn't be able to get permission. Her mom told us the same thing. She was like "well, I guess I would give her permission, but there's no way my husband is going to be okay with it..." Gahh!! Last Sunday was fast Sunday, so Elder Navas and I fasted and prayed for Maria that she would be able to get permission to be baptized. This was before I even met her. Both Maria and her mom were so sure that she would never be able to get permission from her dad. On Friday we talked to Maria, and asked if she was able to talk to her dad about getting baptized and she was like "yeah, he said if I want to that I can get baptized." Whaaat??! That was easy. Just another of an unrealistically high number of my prayers that have been answered on the mission. So Maria is set to be baptized this coming Friday! Yes!! We talked to her mom on Sunday and she told us "honestly, the only reason why my husband gave her permission was because he didn't want to have to talk to you guys about it." Hahaha. The Lord works in mysterious ways. But that's legit permission! So we're all stoked on that.

Saturday was kind of... bad. Not that it was a bad day work wise. What made it bad was food. But before I go into detail on that, on Saturday Elder Navas and I were walking out of the office, and these three girls from the Peace Corps are walking down the sidewalk and one of them says to us "Elders!! I have a question for you... wait, you speak English, right?" Haha. Well turns out one of them is a member and she's gonna be living here for the next two years and was asking us if there's a church near where she's gonna live. I gotta say, it was super hard to have a conversation in English. Elder Navas was basically speaking more English than I was. Haha. But that was interesting. After that, the day got ruined. On Saturdays and Sundays we get to eat lunch with members. We also did this sometimes in Pacasmayo, and I never enjoyed it, because Peruvian food is not delicious, and most people don't know how to cook well, making it even worse. Anyway we have all of our lunches with members planned out ahead of time. We were going to eat lunch with this one sister in the ward, and then we got a call from our bishop telling us that this other family has been waiting for us with lunch all ready for like two hours and that we need to get over there and eat. Wait, what?? We're supposed to be eating with this other sister. Elder Navas asked the bishop if he was sure, and he told us yes, and so we assumed we wrote down the wrong thing or whatever, so we went to go eat with the other family. We got there, and they were already eating, because we got there so late. So we ate with them, pretty normal. The only bad thing was that they gave us this juice which was just the grossest thing in the world. It tasted like a mayonnaise sandwich. It tasted like white sandwich bread with mayonnaise. And the aftertaste lasted about six hours. Not exaggerating. Elder Navas and I were suffering the rest of the day. So after eating we went back to the office, when we immediately get another phone call, telling us that the sister who we thought we were supposed to eat with has been waiting for us to get there for a long time now with food all ready. Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!! We're already stuffed. We sat and tried hard to think of some excuse not to go, but in the end we ended up going. We showed up, and somehow she knew that we already ate lunch. I had a little bit of room left, so we said we'd eat a little, and she assured us that she was just going to give us a little bit, since she knew we already ate. Okay, now, left me explain another cultural difference of Peru that causes me physical damage: Here, it is literally impossible to ask anybody to give you just "a little bit" of food. You can ask all you want, and they'll tell you that they understand and they'll serve a small portion, but not matter what, 100% of the time, they give you the most gigantic meal you've ever seen in your entire life. This lady, knowing that we had already eaten, did the same thing. She came out with a huge bowl of soup. Ugh. But, nooo. It would be too easy if it stopped there. She came back out with a gigantic plate of white rice. Humongous. Nooo!!! And then, she came out a third time with another plate with a huge piece of fish. Gaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh I want to die!!!! Why?? WHY?!! Well, needless to say, I could not finish my three huge plates of food that made up my second lunch of the day. Not my fault! It was a day ruiner. We felt so sick after that. Blech. However, fast forward to dinner time and the day gets good again. On Saturday those of us in the office got to go to the mission home to eat dinner with President and Sister Risso! Sister Risso made us dinner, and it was way yum. Basically it was just a typical Uruguayan sandwich with some french fries, but it was much higher quality than most anything else you will ever eat here. So good! And it included bacon, and lettuce, and we ate ice cream with strawberries for dessert. Three of the four prohibited foods for missionaries to eat in Peru. What we can't eat here is lettuce, strawberries, any type of pig, and this Peruvian dish which is really good (not that I would know... (okay fine, I totally know.)) called ceviche. We can't eat them because the way they're prepared or cleaned here is not trustworthy and too many people get sick, so we just can't eat them to avoid problems. But dinner was delish. The mission home is cool too. Got to talk a lot with President Risso, which is always fun. I learned that he used to be the drummer in a rock band. Can this guy get any cooler?!? I say unto you, nay.

Back to the issue of cold drinks: Yesterday we also went to go eat with the same family we first ate with on Saturday. First problem, they almost gave us the same juice that almost killed me the day before. Until the husband tried it and realized that something was wrong with the juice. Apparently it was pineapple juice, but it had started fermenting. ARE YOU KIDDING ME I DRANK THAT THE OTHER DAY AND I KNEW SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH IT. But, I didn't have to drink it again, thank goodness. They gave Elder Navas and I this other drink that was in the fridge, but, for their kids, they didn't want them to get sick, so they took their glasses, and microwaved them. Seriously?! I do not approve of this tomfoolery!! Today I went to buy me a nice cold Inca Kola, and to my surprise and delight, the shop I bought it at actually keeps their refrigerator cold! So I was treated to a deliciously cold drink. Rare. On Coca-Cola bottles they have this square on them that's white, but if the drink is at the ideal cold temperature for drinking, it turns blue. Well, today I realized that I have never seen that square blue here, but in the shop I bought my Inca Kola, the square was blue. Definitely going to have to start buying my sodas there. It's a glasses (for your eyeballs) store that also happens to sell refrigerated soda. Weird. Haha.

Other weird experiences of this week include walking down the street and this guy walks by, sees us, gets all angry and says "what are you gringos doing here in Peru?!" Elder Navas says that same guy has done the same thing lots of times before. Another weird thing is that in Peru people (usually little kids) see me, a white American, and I don't know if they're too lazy to look and see who I'm walking with, but I'm clearly the only "gringo" in the companionship, but they always refer to us (myself and my latin American companions) as "the gringos." There's only one gringo! Oh, and remember that picture I sent a while back of that "beautiful teen pregnancy" Barbie doll rip-off? Yesterday we went to go visit some members, and their little girl, who must be like three years old, totally had that doll!! Two of them! Are you kidding me? I can't believe those things are for real. They're fun too, the doll has a gigantic removable stomach that comes off and a baby comes out. Hahaha. How do ideas like that get approved to go on-sale? This is what happens when Billy Mays dies and the world is suddenly left without such a great quality-control pitchman and horrible products like this are now being approved and running wild, ruining the minds of little boys and girls throughout the world. I miss Billy Mays :'(

Well, sounds like you guys are all back in California right now. Not fair! Jacque, I'm sorry that Disneyland will be so boring without me there. If you go, just make sure to ride Star Tours a million times and it will be a little bit better. But would you seriously go again this year when we went last year?? Jeez, just wait for me. Haha. I'm a little bit jealous of you guys right now, not gonna lie. I wish I could be there with you guys and Grandma and Grandpa and whatever cousins/uncles/aunts are down there right now. Too many fun memories at Grandma's house! Sam keeps making sure to let me know just how much great stuff I'm missing out on in all of his letters. Haha. Gosh dangit Sam. I hope you're all having fun, and I hope Rocket is having fun too! I miss that guy a whole lot. Even more now, knowing that I will probably never see him again. Sigh :( Make sure to keep him happy! :)

I gotta go do some serious financial secretary work right now. This has been a fun one-way conversation with you guys. I miss you a whole lot. Don't forget to buy me an In-N-Out shirt! I have one from every year for like the past six years! Don't break the combo!

Talk to you later. I hope all your wildest dreams (that aren't nightmares) come true!


Éldér Hémsléý

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