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

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