Thursday, September 27, 2012

Victor's own words after two months of being the Financial Secretary, "I hate money now. I'm gonna live a life without money when I get home. Money is stupid." (ha,ha)


Oh boy am I glad to see you! Err... write this e-mail to you. I hope all is well in the land of the trees. All is dusty here on Tatooine. Seriously, I don't even know how it happens but our room gets covered with dust so quickly. I put on freshly washed clothes and then out of nowhere giant dust marks appear all over them. I shine my shoes and take one step outside and just like that my shoes go from shiny black to dirty brown. Maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration...for Chiclayo. But that is literally what happened to my shoes in Olmos. Speaking of black shoes turning brown, my black Vans that I brought out here used to be black once upon a time, but they are super light brown these days. I don't understand why all clothes get ruined here.

Anyways..... Well, last week I forgot that end of month payments were coming up, and this week those hit me hard. We literally only left the office to eat and to sleep for three days straight. Gross!! I don't enjoy being in here for that long. When I'm not out teaching I get more homesick, and I feel less like a missionary. I don't like not feeling like a missionary. I mean, it'll be okay to feel like that when I get home, but not now!! Sometimes the office is rough. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy it here, I just don't enjoy it at the end of every month. Getting to be around other missionaries all the time, and around President and Hermana Risso is pretty awesome if I do say so myself. But I hate money now. I'm gonna live a life without money when I get home. Money is stupid.


So, this week was a lot of sitting in front of a computer. Back home I had many similar days. The difference, is that back home I was doing fun stuff on the computer, and here it’s the most boring thing in the world. I had to find ways to entertain myself like downloading conference talks and devotionals and firesides ´n stuff and listening to them while preparing everything for every missionary in the mission to receive their money for October. Y'know. Not really the funnest thing in the world. You know what I'm excited for? General Conference! I haven't seen General Conference in a year. I didn't used to like it that much at home (well...I did. But for all the wrong reasons. (CINNAMON ROLLS!!!)) but it's something I really look forward to now. I still think it’s weird that the first General Conference I've ever missed in my entire life I missed while I was a missionary. But whatever. My predictions are that they're gunna announce a new temple in Eugene. Yep. That's realistic.

One of the interesting events of this week occurred whilst I was workin' hard at my desk. Someone called the office, and for some reason I answered the phone (I'm never the one who answers it) and gave the usual "Buenas tardes, Misión Perú Chiclayo," only to hear "Umm... hello?"... Huh? What is this strange language I'm hearing?! "Do you speak English?" the person asked me. It was one of the missionary's moms who was worried about her son because he lost his debit card. I proceeded to have a full blown conversation in English which was rather difficult. It felt really weird to speak in English on the phone. It also felt really weird to speak to someone who was in the United States. I talked to the United States this week!! That was fun.

This weekend we went to this member's house who we were supposed to eat with. We show up, and they didn't even remember that they signed up to feed us that day. The member wasn't even there! But his daughter was, and she called him to tell him that we were at his house waiting for our lunch. After like twenty minutes he shows up and decides to take us out to eat because obviously they hadn't prepared any food for us. Okay, cool. So we hop in his sports car (that's a first for me in the mission) and head to this random small restaurant that he just picked as we were driving by because he had no idea where he was gonna take us. So we go in, we order our food, and then he says "alright well I have to leave. I have a lot of important things to do today. Tomorrow we'll have food ready for you at our home. Bye!" and he just leaves us alone at the restaurant. Weird. The food was okay, but it was still a weird situation. So, Sunday after church we head back over to his house. This time he knows we're coming. Actually... I think I'm just gonna copy down my journal entry because it describes the whole thing pretty well:


Yesterday when we went to the restaurant with the member he told us he was sorry but that tomorrow (today) he would have food ready for us at his home. So today we show up, and he comes out and he's all "Okay Elders, let's go. We're going out to eat." I want to think he's joking, but I know he's not. ARE YOU INSANE IT’S THE SABBATH!!! As I'm sitting there in a state of unbelief, trying to find an appropriate response, my companion just says "okay!" as if this is completely normal and there's no problem at all. And then the worst part; we actually go out to eat!! I felt so bad. It seriously made me feel horrible. I'm an official representative of my Savior and His church and I'm breaking the Sabbath in public with my nametag on!! Stupidest thing ever. Elder Perea said it best after the fact; "I don't think there is a single member here who keeps the Sabbath day holy." Elder Perea said that this was the third time that a member has taken him out to eat on a Sunday. Why is it so hard for these people to understand?! Or maybe they do understand, in which case they're all blatantly disobedient every Sunday. I don't get it.

Hehe. I was a little angry when I wrote that. It made me so uncomfortable going out to eat on Sunday. Back home it would have been weird too but not such a big deal because back home I'm not a missionary. I was just hoping the whole time that nobody who saw us was a member or someone that understood our belief of keeping the Sabbath holy. Not the funnest thing in the world.

Speaking of food, there's this one little burger shack here in Chiclayo that Elder Navas showed me and now Elder Samamé, Elder Chero, and I always like to go to to buy our dinner. It's called Triangulito. Just this tiny place on a random corner of Chiclayo right next to a gigantic Catholic cathedral. These burgers are nothing like burgers back home, but they are good. So we went there multiple times this week for dinner. Yummo!

We also have been continuing to visit Edith and José. Though not super frequently because of how busy we've been and our schedules clash. I'm not really sure how well they're progressing. At first they were super awesome, and they still are, but it definitely feels like they're a lot less interested than before, and they have a lot more doubts. They are being visited by Jehovah's Witnesses too, who have a reputation of... not saying the nicest things about us. I hope that's not what's happening. We'll see. They haven't come back to church. But they gave us corn on the cob the other day. Mmm.

Sound's like Gretchen's wedding was pretty fun. Wish I could have been there! I think what I'm most jealous about is that you got to see Mitch. It has been quite a while since the last time I saw that guy... I miss going to Utah too. I went so many times the year before my mission! I don't know how that happened. I've never been the biggest fan of Utah the place, but I know like a thousand people there and I love to visit them. So I still enjoy going to Utah. Hehe. Ready for another Park City trip.

And what's this craziness about Bryn wanting to go into music recording or engineering?! When did Bryn get that cool?! I also wanted to do that for a while. I still would like to actually. I don't believe it's an option at Ricks College though. Perhaps it is. Someone please prove me wrong... Psh, what do I care? School is just a backup plan for having fun playing guitar for the rest of my life.

Well, this e-mail is pretty scattered all over the place. I struggle to find good stories to tell you when the majority of my week was spent at a desk. So often people ask me, "doesn't it just suck to be in the office?" And I'm like "uhh... no... not really..." Yes, there are bad parts. Monthly payments is the worst thing ever. But most of it is a lot of fun since I'm always around the other missionaries and we're joking around 'n stuff. But in general none of the missionaries ever want to get transferred to the office. Even though I'm really busy, sometimes I feel like I'm not doing a whole lot, because I don't get to go out teaching as much as I used to. A lot less actually. But it helps (and this actually happens surprisingly frequently) when people ask me, "do you feel like you're helping?... Because you are. A lot." People are always thanking me for what I do. I've even received thank you notes from other missionaries in the mail. Haha. Just gotta realize that I really am helping a lot. And if I don't do my job, the whole mission dies. It’s fun being able to serve like that. That's why I came to Peru. To help people. Now the focus is temporarily switched from helping investigators, to helping missionaries, but I'm still able to help people every day. I like that.

Anyway, I'm really diggin' these Mormon videos these days. I don't have movies, and I don't have Youtube, so these are all I got. But I thought this one was pretty neat about the Bible and the importance of scripture:
We're so blessed to have scripture in this day. God has always called prophets, and inspired them to teach and to write. The words they write come directly from Him, and so the Bible and the Book of Mormon and other books of scripture are literally the word of God. God loves us so much that he's given us these books to guide and bless our lives, and He loves us so much that He continues to reveal new truths, and new guidance to us through living prophets and apostles. I was reading a talk a week or two ago talking about the importance of prophets. It talked about how the scriptures are all so important, but what can help us the most right now, even more than the scriptures, is the current prophet God has called. It got me thinking about other examples.... Like in the times of Noah. Maybe the people back then had access to scripture, maybe they didn't. I dunno. But what was the most important thing they could have followed in that time? Maybe they had the writings of Adam or other previous prophets, and those would have been great guides and blessings to them, but obviously in that moment in history, the most important source of guidance they could have followed was Noah. Eight people followed Noah, and they were the only eight people in the entire would who didn't drown. How about the people in the times of Moses? Yes, ancient scripture would also have been a huge blessing in their lives, but more important than anything else at that time was their living prophet. Without him, the people of Israel wouldn't have escaped Egypt. If the Egyptians had listened to Moses, they wouldn't have suffered through all the plagues. The current living prophet we have right now is our most important source of guidance in our lives. What about the times of Jesus? The people knew the scriptures. There were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Scribes, and whoever else. They all believed in God and the scriptures, but interpreted them all differently. But who was the most important person they could have listened to in the times of Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ. Duh. Jesus taught using the scriptures, and explaining them. God loves us, so He sends us scripture. But He knows that there is so much confusion, and so many interpretations, and He knows that the world and our circumstances change over time, so he doesn't just leave us with a few volumes of ancient scripture and expect us to survive on that alone. He calls prophets to give us modern day guidance, and to help us understand the scriptures, like the ancient prophets and apostles did. Although vaguely implied in the Bible, some of the blessings I'm most grateful for come from keeping commandments that the Lord has given us more recently. Like keeping the Word of Wisdom for example. That's why I'm excited for General Conference, because it gives me a chance to listen to a living prophet, and living apostles, who are special witnesses of Jesus Christ, and who will tell us what He wants us to know. I am so thankful for the love and the guidance my Father in Heaven always shows me. I am so thankful for the scriptures, and I am so thankful to have a living prophet. I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the word of God. I know that God speaks to us today through President Thomas S. Monson, and through twelve apostles. I know that God doesn't change. If God called prophets back then, He will do it now. If God revealed scripture back then, He will do it now. If miracles happened back then, miracles will happen today. And if God loved His people back in Bible times, He still loves His people in modern times. God didn't just stop caring or stop playing a part in our lives after the Bible was written. That's not a God of love. That's not the God I know and love. Who are we to put limits on God like that? God plays a huge part in my life today, and I'm just barely starting to recognize all the blessings that come from it. I am so thankful for this gospel and all the happiness it has brought, and will continue to bring to me. I'm so thankful for the opportunity I've had this part year of getting to know my Heavenly Father on a much more personal level, and to learn to put my trust in Him and receive the blessings. I love the scriptures, I love the prophets, I love My Savior, and I love my Heavenly Father so much.

I also love cookies. Remember how you sent me two packets of chocolate chip cookie mix for Christmas? I still have them. I need to find an oven. I'm thinking one of these p-days we might be able to go and bake them with Hermana Risso. Hoping I can make that happen before next Christmas! Speaking of Christmas, I really miss it. Last Christmas didn't feel like Christmas at all and so I feel like it's been a really, really long time since I've had Christmas!! CHRISTMAS!!

Anyway, some random favors: I realize there are a lot of people in my family who have served missions, but I don't remember where most of them went. I thought it would be cool if you could send me a list or something of everyone in our family who has served a mission, and where they served. No real reason why, other than I would like to see it. Haha. Also, I was noticing the other day that in my journals at the beginning there is a page that says "Line of Authority" or something like that, and then it goes like this:
I was ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood by ______________ on (this date), 
Who was ordained by _____________,
Who was ordained by _____________,
Who was ordained by Peter, James, and John,
Who were ordained by Jesus Christ
Well, I never really paid attention to that page before, and I was realizing that I also have no idea how to fill it out, because I don't have the info. I don't know if you can, but if possible it would be really cool if you could get that information for me. It is really awesome to think that the priesthood authority I received can be traced back to Jesus Christ himself.

Alright, well I'm done. Fresh outta things to say. I always miss you guys a lot. Talk to you later!


-Elder Victor Paul Hemsley

Here are a few more pictures that Victor sent (you can see all of them by clicking on the slideshow at the top of this blog):

"Playing soccer. Team Office!"

"Lookin' Good."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"One year ago I gave my farewell talk in the Eugene Third Ward, and one year ago today was the last time I saw my friends. One year ago today was the last day I watched Star Wars, the last day I listened to blink-182, the last day I used my cellphone, the last day I used Facebook. One year ago today was the last day of life as I once knew it."

Hello. I am very sleepy right now. We went to play soccer today, and let's just say I haven't exactly been exercising on a daily basis, and it pretty much wore me out big time. Yawn.

Hey, you know what happened this week?? Half of my mission ended! How is that even real?

Well, let's see what random memories of this past week I can pull out of my brain to share with you guys...

Well, first of all, one day I went out and bought Vanilla Coke and Dr. Pepper. Eh, not really my favorites, but they're a rare sight here so I had to take advantage. Cherry Coke however, is delicious. You know what else doesn't exist here? Root beer. Oh how I miss root beer! Oh how I miss every food and every drink from the United States. Look, I always knew it was a blessing to live in the United States, but I never realized just how amazing it was until I left.

Dang, I really don't have a whole lot to say about this week. The office is starting to show us no mercy these days. This week we mostly focused on visiting and getting to know the members of our ward. In Pacasmayo and in Olmos I was in struggling branches, and I always wished I could be in an area where an actual ward exists instead of a branch. I got my wish, and the ward is like a millionfinity times worse than either of those branches. Yikes! So we're trying to gain the trust of the members and get them more excited about the gospel so they can pull together and have a functioning ward someday. Plus, since we're not really full-time proselyting here because of the office, we really need the support of the members worse than ever so that the missionary work can continue strong even if we're in the office. So we didn't see a lot of investigators or nuthin' this past week. Getting to know the members though, so that's a good thing.

Hmm, I think I'll just pull some stuff straight outta the ol' journal to share with you this week. Let's see what I've got...

Ooh, okay, check this one out:


One year ago today I wrote my first journal entry as a missionary. Wow. Aside from September 12th, that means I've written an entry every single day for an entire year. That's crazy. One year ago I gave my farewell talk in the Eugene Third Ward, and one year ago today was the last time I saw my friends. And they were at church. How cool. One year ago today was the last day I watched Star Wars, the last day I listened to blink-182, the last day I used my cellphone, the last day I used Facebook. One year ago today was the last day of life as I once knew it. So weird to think about. I miss everything and everyone. But someday it will all come back. I have to make the most of what time I have left out here, because once this is over, I'll never get the chance to do something like this ever again. I make myself so homesick sometimes, and then there are times when I think about going home, and although I'm obviously excited, it makes me sad to think that I'm not going to be able to continue to be a missionary like this. I think about taking off my name tag for the last time and it doesn't feel right. Like the name tag is a part of me. I only have a very short time to be an official representative of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that is something so special and so sacred. It will be sad when people stop calling me "Elder," and when I won't be able to make the same kinds of promises to people and receive revelation to help them in the same way. I think about home, and I can't wait to get back, but at the same time, I'm glad I still have a lot of time left to be doing this. Gonna make the most of this year. Here goes...

And this one:


Well, today is officially the one year mark. Wow. I can't even believe it. I remember the first day of my mission so vividly. Going out to breakfast with Tyler, going out for lunch and shakes with Gretchen and Aunt Debbie, getting dropped off at the MTC... Seeing Porter Long like two seconds after entering the MTC and then seeing Jenny Doll like two minutes after that. Walking into my classroom before anyone else and Hermana Roerig starts having a conversation with me purely in Spanish. Getting my first comp, Elder Peterson. Going through all the orientation stuff. Being overwhelmed... I truly cannot believe a year has already passed. It’s all downhill from here.

This morning in the office I got a phone call from Elder Marker wishing me a feliz cumpleaño. Haha. Elder Chuiz told me that Elder Peterson bought four pizzas to celebrate! Me? I bought myself a plastic Clone Wars cup and a "1" birthday candle that I stuck in one of my hot dogs for dinner. Fun stuff.

For realz I can't believe a year has gone by. It truly doesn't feel like it. I remember as if it just barely happened being at Park City and Aunt Jeanie was talking about how Mitchell was almost at the halfway point of his mission. Almost. Not even. And now he's been done for a couple months already, and here I am at the halfway point of my own mission. Too weird. I don't understand how the months fly by so fast. Sometimes the days go by slow, but the months shoot past you. It doesn't make sense. But whatever. I'm stoked to live this next year up and make it the better half of my mission. This time I don't have a learn a new language, or learn how to teach or to talk to people. Although I can still improve a lot in everything. This time I just gotta work!! Seriously I just wish everyone could have an experience like this. I always knew I was going to serve a mission, and I always wanted to, but at the same time I wasn't always super thrilled about the idea. The mission isn't 100% fun, but now being out here and recognizing the personal growth within me and seeing all the incredible blessings that I never could have received any other way, I can't even imagine life without doing this. I don't even want to. I've come to know my Heavenly Father on such a personal level and it’s helped me so much. I've seen so many miracles. I've received so many answers to so many prayers. Even ridiculous prayers, like remembering one day in Pacasmayo that we had no water in our room and we forgot to fill up the huge water bucket and bring it upstairs. I felt super sick that day and I knew I wouldn't have the strength to do it, so I prayed, asking that somehow Mama Nena or someone else in the house would be impressed to go and fill up our water for us. We got back to the room, and our water bucket was totally full!! Mini miracles like that are not a rare occurrence when you put your trust in God. Mitchell (or "Elder Paul" at the time) wrote me a letter from Russia and told me that he's learned more about the gospel on his mission than in the entire rest of his life combined. So have I. Before the mission one of the most precious things I had was my testimony, because it helped me get through a lot, protected me from trouble, and gave me so much hope and happiness. That testimony that I cherished so much is nothing in comparison to the testimony I've gained out here. I've said it before, but I feel like I'm being blessed so far beyond what I deserve. I feel like so many blessings are pouring out upon me that I don't even know what to do with them. I feel now more than ever that I am a child of God, and that my Heavenly Father loves me, a lot. It’s the coolest thing ever. I wish everyone had an opportunity to do something like this...

Anyway the real highlight/surprise of the week was getting mail on Friday and reading mom's letter that said "This Thursday I'll pick Jacqueline and Bryn up after school and drive to Utah for Gretchen's wedding." Wait... WHAT?!!? And then it went on "Her wedding is on Friday the 14th." And as I was reading that I was like wait a minute.... TODAY IS FRIDAY THE 14th!! WHAT THE HECK? GRETCHEN IS GETTING MARRIED TODAY!!! That's what reading the mail was like this week. Haha. Wow, I can't even believe it. Gretchen was literally the last person I saw before I entered the MTC, and now fast forward one year (exactly one year to the day) and she's married! Anyway Gretchen, I'm super happy for you and can't wait to meet my new cousin-in-law when I get back!! Be good! Miss you lots!

Also this week we had another lunch with members problem. This time is was that we had no idea where the member lived, and we had no way to contact them to find out, so on Saturday we were just kinda stuck without lunch. Elder Chero and Elder Samamé didn't have anywhere to eat either, so in the end, the four of us when out to eat at a restaurant called "Jackie Chan Chifa." Haha. "Chifa" = Peruvian Chinese food. Seriously. Look it up on Google or something. It was alright. But seriously we only went because it was called Jackie Chan Chifa. On Sunday we found out that the members who we were supposed to eat with didn't even remember that we were supposed to eat with them, and they went out to lunch somewhere else, so turns out we didn't let anyone down by not showing up to eat with them. Phew!

Looks like Summer is over for you guys. How sad! Sounds like you had a fun one though. I'm still confused about if you had a Paul family reunion this year or not. You never told me about one. I think... Anyway it's really weird to me that Bryn's all the sudden a senior. I was just barely a senior and Bryn was a little freshman!! Pretty awesome that you're doing Classic South though, Bryn. Best decision I made in my high school career. Here's a word of advise: if you want to have the best class that ever existed ever, take Peer Group. Thou shalt not be displeased!! My last semester of high school was way too good. I only had like one real class, and three free periods (a three hour long lunch!!). Most of my time "at school" was probably actually spent at Taco Bell and Carl's Jr. with like a million friends. And I never skipped a class once! So good! I miss high school for realz. Keep me updated on the whole college thing. Its sort of ridiculous that you're getting ready to go to college. How is that even possible? Anyway if you don't end up picking BYU Idaho, I'll dropkick you. Just so you know. Mom! If she ends up going to BYU-I make sure to sign us up for as many of the same classes as possible so I can be the big brother who makes everything super awkward for the little sister. It will be fun times indeed. Although BYU-Idaho is dangerous for little girls. They get married far too young and far too fast! Seriously BYU-Idaho is infamous for that. Gotta be careful! It’s all about following your mom's example and serving a mish. I've never had a wife yet, so I don't really know anything as far as that goes, but I do know from experience that returned sister missionaries make pretty awesome moms. :)

And Sam's home teaching now! I think you told me that before, but I forgot. That's way cool. Home teaching is basically the exact same as missionary work, except you're teaching and helping members instead of investigators. I wasn't much of a fan of home teaching before, but somehow I got a change of heart my second semester of college (went from 0% home teaching first semester to 100% my second! Haha. Although it’s only like three visits each semester...) and learned that home teaching is actually pretty cool. Good prac for the mish. Sounds like you're getting to have some cool experiences!

And little Jacque is a genius and is taking Algebra 2 already and a buncha other classes. I didn't take Algebra 2 until junior year!... and then again senior year! Hahaha. I so did not love that class. And Sam's taking two cooking classes. Yes, that also happened to me in middle school. I took like three or four cooking classes in middle school. And then another in high school. You'd think I would have learned a thing or two about cooking. Nope. Microwaveable hot dogs and PB+Js all the time!! All I learned is that I don't like quiche, and that snails are actually kind of good. Yummo! I'm all about trying weird stuff like that. At least once. But only if it comes from a reliable source. AKA not the streets of Peru. We're actually not allowed to eat anything they sell in the streets here. I'm still sad that I didn't get sent to a part of Peru where they eat cats. Hahahaha. I totally want to be able to say I ate a cat!

Well, I'm clearly at a loss of things to talk about this week. I guess I'll finally explain that one dumb photo of my hand. Once upon a time, I was clipping my fingernails, and without realizing it, I left one of them unclipped. I noticed later in the day, and it bothered me a lot and felt really weird to have one nail longer than all the rest. Then I realized that in Peru, for some reason that nobody knows, tons of people here keep one or two fingernails a lot longer than the rest. Seriously, I've asked multiple people, and nobody knows why, they just do it. So, I figured it was culturally acceptable to have one long fingernail, so when I got back to my room that night, I didn't clip it. I let it keep growing until the next time I clipped my nails a few weeks later. It got really long and really gross and really annoying. When I clipped my nails again finally, I clipped them all except for that one again, just to make it look even stupider, and took that photo. Then immediately after I chopped the heck outta that thing off my hand. I'm pretty sure that last sentence was grammatical diarrhea. So... it wasn't that cool of a story. Told you. But that's what was up with that photo.

Okay well that's pretty much it for this week. Like I said before we mostly spent the week visiting members and didn't have a lot of cool investigator experiences, but we really need to help this ward that is hopelessly struggling to just barely stay alive! One sad story: Today my prized zipper tie broke. The zipper got wrecked beyond repair, and I am now without a zipper tie. If you could send me a new one, it would be greatly appreciated. I don't care how ugly it is, I only care that it has a zipper. I mostly only use the zipper tie on an occasional p-day. Do you expect me to waste my precious p-day time tying a tie?! Heck no! Anyway I would like another if it's not too much trouble. It was a crowd favorite among the younglings. Oh yeah, and some new BIC Ultra Round Stic Grip pens. I'm on my last, and I don't like the pens here. Hehe.

I love you a whole lot. Stay in school, don't do drugs, that kind of stuff.

But seriously, don't do drugs.


Elder Hemsley

Victor sent some new pictures that I have added to the slideshow at the top of this blog.  Here are two of our favorites:
"Going to play soccer this morning! This is mostly how we get around in Peru. Mototaxis."

"Something really weird at Zone training."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Look, one year ago, although I would have expected to be able to communicate decently in Spanish by now, I never ever in a million years would have imagined myself offering financial advice over the phone to some Peruvian lady in pure español."

¡Hola from Mexico!

Err... some place where we speak Spanish.

Look, if it's a place where they speak English, it's the United States. If they speak French, it's France, and if they speak Spanish, it's Mexico. That's how it works. I'm just confused by the complete lack of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, Taco Bells, and Mountain Dew Baja Blast. This is nothing like how I imagined Mexico.

Well, I feel like I'm repeating what I said last week by saying this past week was the busiest week ever. Well... I wrote you on like Thursday or something, so I guess I’m actually talking about the same week still. But if I had to sum up this past week in two words it would be these: the office. And not the hit comedy TV show. But, like I said last week, a new month, and a new transfer hit me at the exact same time and skyrocketed my workload. Without getting into the boring details, here's a quick summary: Transfers, transfer meeting, new companion, new companion training, sending old comp off to Chachapoyas, payments, problem solving, financial advising, waiting, work, work, work, hardly any proselyting. That's the fast version. So, I suppose I just summed up my whole week and this e-mail is already over.


Hmm, but let's see. What else can I say. Well, getting a teensy more in-depth, last Monday (which I'm well aware is before the last time I sent you an e-mail. I'm not repeating stuff) a buncha missionaries went home whose two years were up! Elder Despain was among them. Gotta say goodbye to all of them. Kinda fun. I had to interview all of them about financial stuff. Can't return with honor if you're in debt! No problems though. That night the new missionaries also arrived. Got to eat dinner with them in the mission home (ceviche. Mmm...) and then took them to stay the night at a hotel. The next morning was the big ol' transfer meeting we always have. Elder Perea actually got here on Monday because Elder Navas had to train him for a few days, so going into the transfer meeting I already had my new companion. Like I explained last time transfers happened, us office guys have to help out a lot at these meetings. Once again we went with the new arriving missionaries and had an introductory meeting with them and Hermana Risso. I was the translator again. Still difficult. Translated for two this time. Elder White and Elder Driggs. They're pretty cool guys. Way excited to be here, which is rad. After that we went with them into another meeting where the newbies got to find out who their trainers are and what area they're gonna be in. The awesome thing is that Elder Driggs' new comp is Elder Choc, and Elder White went off to Olmos, so I figure they're both in good hands! Pretty excited for them actually. Rad comp, rad area. Especially for the fact that Choc trained me too. neato.

After that, and continuing throughout the week, we worked a whole heck of a lot in the office. I would tell you my weekly numbers proselyting-wise, but they're too unbelievably awful... (okay fine, we taught two lessons. Hehe.) On top of my normal huge workload when transfers come around, this week also threw a whole bunch of surprises at me adding on to my already ridiculous amount of things I had to do. There was one point early in the week where I just took a moment to think about the amount of things I had to do, and it was so overwhelming. I had no idea how I was going to survive the week. But, somehow, I made it through, with minimal battle scars. Though, I seriously have almost nothing interesting to tell you this week as a result. One thing that kind of blew my mind after the fact was that at one point I was talking to this lady on the phone who the mission's renting a house from in Jayanca (area in my old Zone) and talking her through this problem she's having and basically working a serious real-life financial problem. Look, one year ago, although I would have expected to be able to communicate decently in Spanish by now, I never ever in a million years would have imagined myself offering financial advice over the phone to some Peruvian lady in pure español. Kinda got me thinking that I'm sort of getting the hang of this language now. Pretty crazy. Honestly, for quite a long while now I've felt more or less fluent in the language. There are still things I don't know how to say, and there are still times where I don't know how to say anything, but I've been comfortable for a long time now. It’s not uncommon for someone to ask me if I'd studied Spanish before the mission, and then be legitimately surprised when I tell them no. (Okay, yes, I did take two years of Spanish in high school, but come on, I honestly didn't learn anything other than how to say "me gustan los videojuegos" and learn that in Resident Evil 4 there's one part where one of the Spanish dead people say's "we have to go.") So, I guess I'm fairly decent at this language. Which is cool. However, I remember that before my mission started, I knew a little bit (a very little bit...) of French. Now, I know absolutely none. I try to think of French now, and I've completely lost it. There's only enough room in my brain for one foreign language apparently. However, recently I've run into a little bit of a problem, and it's that for the first time in my mission I now have a companion that I struggle to understand. Yikes. Gotta crank up them Spanish skills apparently.

Okay, time for a prime example of "Peruvian time" kicking me right in the... face. So, Elder Perea hasn't been feeling his best this past week, so Elder Samamé (Personal Secretary. Deals with the sick missionaries 'n stuff.) set up an appointment for him at a health clinic down here. The appointment was on Saturday, at 1:30pm. Saturday was an extremely busy day for me, and I had a lot of important stuff to do. These appointments last like five minutes, so I figured we could go and I could finish stuff up after right? You can already tell where this is going... So, we show up at 1:30, and we sit down to wait for the doctor to get there. And we wait. And we wait. And we wait some more. Multiple times Elder Perea asks the lady at the desk when the heck the doctor is going to show up because we have an appointment that was supposed to be at 1:30 and we've been waiting forever and the freaking doctor isn't here, and she tells us "he's coming." Okay fine, we'll wait some more. Well, long story short, at 3:30 the doctor finally shows up, and it isn't until 3:45 until we actually get to go in and talk to him. ARE YOU KIDDING ME IT’S NOT LIKE WE SHOWED UP BY SURPRISE OR ANYTHING WE HAD A FREAKING SCHEDULED APPOINTMENT FOR 1:30. The appointment lasts five minutes, and we're outta there. Well, this delay really screwed us over big time. Apart from it making us three hours late to a lunch appointment with our bishop's family, I missed my only chance to make a very important payment that day. Still having to deal with the problems that caused. Peruvian time is the stupidest thing ever. And everyone here knows about Peruvian time and everyone even makes jokes about it and how dumb it is, but still everyone is late for everything. The worst part is that everyone can be an hour or two hours late for anything and it’s okay, but heaven forbid if for whatever reason something holds us up and we show up a little bit late for something!! There is no mercy for the missionaries. It bothers me. A lot.

Well that's really all that happened this past week. This week is gonna be much better. Pretty much done with all the big stuff that would have to keep us late in the office. So we're stoked to get out there and get teaching this week. It’s just kind of weird to think that I'm working a full-time job for a major organization, for free. It’s a totally different kind of service than what we give when we're out proselyting full-time. But someone's gotta do it. If the office missionaries don't do their job, the mission crumbles. So sometimes I have to remind myself that maybe I'm not out there teaching the gospel as much as usual, but I'm making it possible for almost 200 other missionaries to get out there and share this amazing message with the world. So, still awesome. Oh yeah and then there was this night this week when I assume Peru was playing soccer because I was writing in my journal at night and all of the sudden out of nowhere the entire freaking city just starts screaming and yelling and at first it totally freaked me out until I realized what was probably going on. Haha. So weird.

Anyway the possibility of G&G coming back out on another mission is pretty exciting! Especially since one of the options is Peru. That would be possibly one of the coolest things ever. Can you imagine two Elder Hemsleys out serving at the same time?! That would be ridiculous! And awesome. You know what I really liked from last October's General Conference? Well, actually, yes, you do, because I already told you. But it's that talk Elder Holland gave during Priesthood session about how we need more missionaries and we need more young men who are active and worthy to be able to serve. But you made me think of one specific thing he said: "What greater gift could grandparents give their posterity than to say by deed as well as word, “In this family we serve missions!”" My grandparents already showed me by example that "in this family we serve missions." Which I think was pretty darn cool of them :) I think about their mission, and how even though our family is real big, there aren't a whole lot of us in the family whose last name is "Hemsley", and that I, along with Grandpa, am one of the only "Elder Hemsleys" there are. I like that. Hehe.

Sam got braces?!?!! And he's like a hundred feet tall now?! I don't really like this whole "my family is going to be completely different when I get home" thing. Stop changing. Oh yeah, and thanks for buying me that In-N-Out shirt. I'm hoping next year I'll be able to continue the tradition and buy another one in person. Keep it at home though. I'm already regretting bringing some shirts out here because they get destroyed. A.K.A. my Yellowcard violin shirt is totally stretched out and crappy now. My socks are discolored and aren't soft anymore. Clothes get ruined here. It’s because there are no washing machines. Another setback of no washing machines is that it takes multiple days for our clothes to get washed, dried, and returned to us. What happened to just throwing them in a machine and taking them out an hour later?! I miss it. I took everything for granted before. Washing machines, air conditioning, roofs, carpet. I miss carpet a lot. Another clothes problem is that Elder Hatch and I have all of the same clothes (we went shopping at the same place...) and when we send them to get cleaned they get mixed up and lost 'n stuff. Mission life. Oh yeah, as for journals, I'm pretty much set. But if you could I'd like it if you could send some that are different colors. Like, the exact same kind you've been sending me, but not blue. I know for sure there are red ones and brown ones because I bought some at the MTC. That would be cool. Kthx. I made up my mind a long time ago that when I get home I am definitely not going to keep a daily journal. There are so many nights where I just have absolutely no desire to write but then I think I've made it this far writing every single day, I can't give up now!! But when I get home that's gotta stop. Maybe weekly or something.

I'm learning cool stuff these days from the mail I'm getting. Like, that apparently my cousin Luka is pretty awesome at Spanish! And Uncle Ryan gave me the great idea of learning how to make picarones. That is one Peruvian food that I actually love. Kind of like a doughnut. Would be a good thing to learn. I love the surprise letters I get from people I don't expect to hear from. Those are fun. I swear one of these days I'm gonna sit down and write some letters back to people. It's been on my to-do list for a super long time.

Anyway I really badly miss my music I just thought I'd let you know. I had a music-related dream last night that left me homesick for music (musicsick?) after I woke up. But it was one of those dreams that I always seem to have where something really awesome is about to happen but the dream ends before it happens. Like how a few years back I dreamed that we got a Wii and I had the box and everything and it was so exciting but the dream ended before I actually got to play Wii. And this other dream where I was at a Yellowcard concert and I was so stoked and then the dream ended before Yellowcard actually started playing. I think last night the dream was something like I had just gotten back home and I was about to finally listen to blink-182 again for the first time in two years, and I was like in the garage in the car or something, all ready and excited to just start blasting it, and then I woke up or something. I always have dreams like that. Haha. Anywayz, not a day goes by that I don't miss doing my favorite thing ever in the world--playing concerts. Still busy writing music with what little free time I have. But it’s a lot different writing music when you don't have an instrument to play. I'm writing songs purely in my head, which is weird. I have some of my best songs I've ever written in my brain right now that I can't wait to show you guys someday. And a lot of other songs with potential. I have to keep playing these songs over again in my head from time to time to make sure I don't forget them. Some of them have been playing in my head for close to a year now, and nobody in the world including myself has ever heard them. I'm excited to see what I can do with these ideas when I get back. Plus a lot of unfinished ideas I left back at home. Music is still what I really want to do. I don't know how, but I wanna do it. But for now I'll put that in second place behind sharing the greatest blessing I have with people I don't even know for one more year.

Okay, well I'll make an effort to have some kind of cool experience this week to make my next e-mail worth writing. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders making it through everything I had to do last week, and I'm stoked to have a much less stressful, much more spiritual week this week. Thanks for your prayers. They're definitely helping. I continue to be amazed every single day by just how many blessings I receive that I don't feel like I deserve. It’s weird to think about how many people right now are saying prayers for me. Some, specifically for me, but millions more who pray for the missionaries in general every day. Prayers get answered. Never forget that. Prayer is something so powerful. One of the greatest gifts God has given us. If you think about it, we have the ability to talk to a god and ask him for help whenever we want. And He helps. That is pretty rad.

Okay, gotta go. No, I didn't forget about that story about the photo of my hand. I just don't have time to tell it. I swear, it's not even a good story. I had a long fingernail. More detail next week maybe. If I remember. This Friday is officially the one-year mark. Too weird.

Talk to you later!

-Elder Hemsley

Friday, September 7, 2012

"I've realized something very strange... I've started repeating months. This is my second September in the mission. So weird."

Hey guys. Well, I'm sitting here right now, looking at the calendar, and I've realized something very strange... I've started repeating months. This is my second September in the mission. So weird. It's all downhill from here! New Found Glory.

Anyways, transfers. Elder Navas is outta here! He's off to Chachapoyas, a.k.a. the coolest area in the entire mission that's like ten hours away from here. But that is not all; he's going as Branch President!! How crazy is that?? He was a great comp. Gonna miss that guy. My new companion's name is Elder Perea, and he's from... Guatemala! Again! I wonder if I can make it through my entire mission only having one Peruvian companion. The ideal for me would be like... being a Zone Leader with a North American as my companion. That sometimes happens. And its basically the only way I could have a gringo comp who's not a newb. Well, anything could happen, but still. The thing is, being a ZL doesn't seem too fun now that I have to deal with the ZL's all the time and see all the stuff they have to do. Haha. Whatever. It would be cool I guess. Don't have to worry about that while I'm in the office.

Well, this week has been insanely busy. Probably the busiest week of my life. The week before and after transfers are ridiculous. Life in the office is so different that being out in the field full-time. It's such a big change. It's gonna be weird to go back out there once I'm done with this. Let's see, what did I get to do this week... Well, on Wednesday, Elder Navas and I went to Lambayeque with the Assistants to go room hunting in a new area that's opening this transfer. Had to find a place for the missionaries to stay, and a house where the members can meet on Sundays. Room hunting. That's new. (I needed some help from Elder Paul. Sounds like he became a pro room hunter on his mish!) We split up and Elder Navas went with Elder Hatch and I went off with Elder Chuiz. Chuiz and I had just about no luck, but Navas and Hatch found something that could work, so at least there was that. Room hunting is kind of weird here. It's not like we can look in the newspaper to see who's renting or selling a room or a house, or check the internet or anything. We have to go out in the streets and look for houses that say they're for rent on the window or something. So that was kinda fun. Other than that, I got to work on paying all the missionaries for the month. Had a lot of problems. Like I paid all the missionaries who are leaving this transfer, because they still had to pay rent and laundry and everything for the month before leaving, but apparently they didn't get paid because their two years are up! I made sure I was paying them multiple times. The site said they were all ready to pay, and I paid, and then next thing you know, none of them got money. Grrrr.... The internet is the worst invention ever sometimes.

However, in the middle of all the office stuff I had to deal with this week, we had a baptism! Jessica was baptized on Saturday, and confirmed Sunday. Woo!! I'm sure you're wondering about the problems we had that night. Well, would it surprise you if I told you it all went perfectly?!... Yes, it probably would. And it would be lying too. Hehe. No, this time, the main problem was the non-stop irreverence that we had to deal with. People out in the halls yelling, this one little kid causing all kinds of mayhem and his mom just sitting there doing nothing. So the whole time I tried very hard (and failed) to keep the reverence, but to no avail. Alas, such is life in Peru. However, the baptism happened, so, yay. I just think about all the baptisms I've been to here in Peru, and all the baptisms I've been to back home, and there is no comparison. They are so different. It makes me kind of sad. And also, I'm realizing the difference music can make to invite the Spirit. Here, nobody plays the piano (usually there isn't even a piano), there are no special musical numbers, and even when we sing hymns, nobody knows how to sing either, and the Spirit suffers. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul even mentions that hymns invite the Spirit, saying: " filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:18-19)." And the Lord said, "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads (D&C 25:12)." Imagine a baptism without music. It doesn't seem right, does it? That's all of my baptisms. Music is so powerful. I love music.

"Jessica's baptism!"

Had some silly tracting experiences again. As always. There's always the classic "but nobody's here right now..." excuse, and then right as they say that someone comes out from behind them. Oops!  That seriously happens almost every day. Then we had another fun one where we started talking to this old man who wanted nothing to do with us because he's 85 years old and he has so much knowledge of the gospel that it would be a waste of time to talk with two young kids like us. What could we possibly share with him that he doesn't already know?? He told us we could come back and visit if we brought our pastor. Hehe.  Silly old man. We also had another old people experience one night as we were walking to an appointment. Three old ladies were walking by, and as they walked past us one of them was like "hey elders! What kinds of stupid things are you teaching tonight?!"... did that seriously happen? Those ladies were like 60 years old! I'm being seriously abused by the elderly out here.

But, y'know, we had some good tracting experiences too. Like how one day when we were just knocking a ton of doors, a.k.a. the boringest thing ever, after quite a long time of doing this, we knocked this one door, and this lady let us right in. Her name is Edith and we had an awesome visit with her and her ten year old daughter Oriana. Both of them were super attentive, and asked a lot of questions, and told us they really appreciated our visit, invited us to come back, and gave us food before we left. So awesome! They're a Catholic family but they love learning more about the gospel. Even the ten year old, who acts way older than ten. The lady told us that other people of other faiths sometimes come and teach them too, because she always lets people in because she loves learning about the gospel, but she told us that what they teach scares her, and that what we taught made her feel more comfortable. So that's awesome too. It’s so stupid to focus on the "if you don't do this, God is gonna punish you so bad!" when teaching the gospel, because the blessings you receive from obedience way outdo the punishments for disobedience. God loves us so much. He wants to bless us so badly, that often he'll even do it when we're undeserving. He never ever wants to punish us, but gave us our free will and allows us to make mistakes which lead to consequences. The gospel is such a huge source of comfort, and hope, and love for me. It should never be used to cause fear. I loved what Elder Holland said in the last General Conference about how "surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it." Personally, I feel like I've been blessed way more than I deserve on my mission. I don't even understand why I'm receiving so many blessings when I feel like I haven't done anything to deserve them. But it just shows me how much God loves me, and how much he loves us all. Anyway, so we went back to visit Edith and Oriana a few days later and had another amazing visit. I just love how much they're involved in the lessons we teach! They have questions, and they truly enjoy learning what we're sharing. Near the end of the visit, Edith's husband (well... boyfriend I guess.) José showed up, and he's awesome too! He told us that he really appreciates that we're visiting his family and that he hopes we can come back again. Then they invited us to eat lunch with them on Sunday. And gave us food again! Haha. We've had a few really good visits with the family, and on Sunday the entire family came to church! That has never happened before on my mission! It's always been my dream to find an entire family to teach and have them come to church, but 99% of the time we're just teaching one person at a time. This family is so good! Elder Navas and I had to go out and buy mattresses for some new areas that are opening up this transfer, and José even helped us out with that. When we went to go buy the mattresses at the place he works he told us that he and his wife enjoyed church and that he's planning on going again next Sunday! He also told us about how sometimes other people of other faiths come to visit his wife, but that he hasn’t participated in the visits, because he doesn't agree with everything they teach, but that he likes it when we come to visit. I dunno, this family is just pretty awesome. We'll see what happens. =)

On Wednesday I was feeling kind of down. It was just not a good day (although I assume it was an even worse day back home :/ ). I watched somebody get robbed, I had to deal with church leaders whose power had gone to their head and just wouldn't help us or other members in any way, got told by old ladies that we're stupid, etc... I was just kind of in a "giving up hope on the human race" kind of mood. Just seeing all this bad stuff happen really got to me that day. And then it really hit me how much of a blessing this gospel has been in my life. The gospel is my number one source of hope, and happiness. I've thought multiple times after having to deal with all kinds of the stupidest things ever on my mission that if I didn't have the gospel in my life, I don't even know what I'd do, because honestly there are so many moments when just everything around me is so messed up, and literally the only source of hope I have left is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Moments when I feel like I can't depend on or trust anybody, or when I feel like the world is going downhill so fast that it's out of control and there's no point in me even trying to make a positive difference. Seriously, being on a mission, the worst the world has to offer just gets shoved in your face all the time, and it's really eye opening (being sheltered back home in Eugene with a great family, a great group of friends, a great second family of sorts in the members of the Church, and (now that I look back) relatively no real problems at all). And seeing all this stuff and having that realization sometimes just takes it’s toll on you and makes you feel pretty useless, and pretty hopeless. But then you realize how much of a blessing and huge source of hope the gospel really is. The gospel gives me a sense of hope that I could never have if I had to depend solely on the world. I know that I am a literal son of God, and that He loves me, and He takes care of me, and He wants the best for me. He has promised me that if I'm faithful and endure to the end that I will have eternal life. He has promised me that if I keep His commandments that He will open the windows of heaven and pour me out a blessing so great that I won't have room to receive it. He has promised that I can be with my family forever, and that death will only separate us for a moment. He has promised me that He will hold my hand and help me. He has promised me that if I do my best, that I will be rewarded, and that I can live forever in a state of never-ending happiness. He loves me so much that He sent his Son to come and die for me. To pay for everything I've ever done wrong, and ever will do wrong. Every mistake I've made. Every evil thought I've had. Jesus Christ willingly gave his life to allow me to live with my Father in Heaven again. Hope is believing in those promises. Trusting in God and believing that those promises will be fulfilled. It makes all the awful stuff here seem so unimportant. One of my favorite promises that I recently read took on a whole new meaning to me as I applied it to myself as a missionary: "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life (Matthew 19:29)." Seriously, I've read that before, but I never thought about it so literally before. I gave up my house, my brothers and sisters, my parents, and everything I knew to be here, for my Father's name's sake, and just recently I read that promise in the Bible, and it's helped me a lot. Believing in these promises gives me hope that I desperately need. And hope that has helped me in during the most awful, saddest moments of my life. I dunno, I was thinking about how much of a comfort that gospel is in my life a lot that day. It’s a pretty cool thing, what I'm doing. All I want is for someone else to gain this same hope that is so precious to me. I just want everyone to have what I have.

Other highlights of the week include Hermana Yactaco making us tacos for lunch one day, running into a member from Olmos while walking down the street, running into Juan José that one awesome investigator from Olmos that thought I was from Orange and he was excited to see me, going to church on fast Sunday and having little Peter get up and share his testimony, and Maria sharing her testimony in front of the entire congregation for the first time, and meeting an old lady who told us she wanted to be baptized, and... lotsa stuff. Really, there are always good things. I also got some pretty super mail. Like a Dear Elder from Kirk! Hey Kirk, nice fake address you used so that I can't possibly respond to your letter. Although it was lolarious. Sorry that ol' Nook is being such a d-bag. Also MEGA LOLZ about the Mt Dew naming thing that went so bad. Hahahahaha. Good ol' trolls. And a pretty awesome letter from Elyse. She sent me a cool quote, a spare one of Kathy's seminary quote handout things, telling me "you never know when these might come in handy." Well, the quote was from Elder Holland. It went a little something like this:

"In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike--and they will--you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham's seed."

Anyway I had that quote sitting out on my desk and a ton of missionaries who came into the office told me how awesome of a quote that was, and a bunch of them even copied it down to bring it with them. I went and searched for the talk that the quote came from and had that sitting on my desk too. One sister missionary saw it and started reading it, and asked me for a copy of the talk. A few days later she told me that she loved the talk so much that she read it like four times that night, and that it helped her so much. Whoa, you really never know when those handouts are gonna come in handy! Looks like it already helped a lot of people, including me. Haha. Thanks Elyse!

While I'm on the subject of mail, I just wanna inform the world that I'm about nine months behind on writing people back, and there's no way I'm ever gonna catch up!  Very likely I won't get to respond to everyone. I have people that I've been meaning to write forever and I just don't have time to do it. Sharing the gospel is sorta taking top priority right now... However there are some people that I would love to write (if I ever find time) that I can't write because they wrote me while they were at school and now they're no longer at school or they've moved and so I don't have their addresses and it's impossible for me to write them. But let's just say that since I left the MTC I've written like maybe five letters. Sorry! I still love you though. :)

Alright, sorry for the mega delay on this e-mail. Busiest week ever. So many problems this week. But everything is working itself out. Everything is gonna be alright. Yellowcard.

Last few comments in relation to questions you've had. Yes, I can buy peanut butter here. But only because I'm in Chiclayo and they actually have huge supermarkets n' stuff here. Outside of Chiclayo its kinda impossible to find. That one picture I sent you of my hand that I told you I'd tell you about later... Well, I'm still gonna have to tell you later, because I'm outta time. It’s not even that good of a story. I am jealous that you saw Spider-man!! And that Oz movie that's coming out. I already knew about it. Seems cool. Wanna see it. But I could go on a month-long rant about everything that's wrong with Wizard of Oz movies. After over 100 years, and like 20 film adaptations, there still doesn't exist one single Wizard of Oz movie that's faithful to the book. That upsets me. Don't get me started. Haha. Is Jacqueline driving?!?! That would be weird... What kinds of fun things could we do here in a week to ten days?... No idea… All I can think of is Machu Picchu, but that's not even in my mission. You know where there are fun things? In the United States.

Aight, I gotta get outta here. Next week should be calmer. I sure hope so! I hope you guys are doing okay. The news about Rocket was the saddest thing in the world :( All I ask is that when I get home and walk through the front door that I'm not greeted by a different dog. There are no replacements for Rocket. :/

K, well, I miss you lots! I feel like I'll be home soon anyway. But don't have too much fun until then. Plan one year of pure boring. K thanks.

See ya!


Victor sent a bunch of new pictures.  If you'd like to see them all just click on the slideshow above.  Here are a few of them:

"I had a lot of stuff to do."

"Fell asleep."

"Studying hard."

"I'm embarassing."