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."

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