Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Honestly, I just miss the Pacific Northwest in general. And I don't mean the Pacific Northwest of South America, because I'm there. I miss the green and the not-hot, and even (you're not going to believe this...) the rain!! I've really grown to love the place I live a million times more than I ever used to love it since I've been gone. I think I used to live in heaven. Back when I was at home I always considered southern California my favorite place, and I still love that place a ton, but really, my home was heaven."

OREGON! Hi! :)

Oooh guess what happened this week?! General Conference!! I even got to see some of the sessions in English, so that was especially great. But whooooaaaaa ARE YOU KIDDING ME? DID YOU HEAR THOSE ANNOUNCEMENTS?! I guess my prediction for a temple in Eugene didn't come true. But, although a temple wasn't announced at my old home, a temple was announced in my current home. We were so excited to hear that another temple is going to be built here in Peru!! Arequipa is super far away from my mission, but it doesn't matter. Hearing that really made me feel like what we're here doing is really making a difference in this country. The gospel is spreading and the Peruvian people are being blessed more and more. Now Peru is anxiously awaiting their second and third temples. So awesome!! And, plus, Eugene Oregon was mentioned during the conference, so my prediction, though incorrect, was... well, actually it was just flat out wrong. A prophesy that misread may have been. It was really cool (and homesicky) to hear Eugene mentioned and Sister Wilberger and about how throughout that entire horrible experience their family was still able to stay strong and recognize their blessings. The other announcement blew our minds even more. Little kids can be missionaries now!!!! Er, 18 year old high school graduates. But still! And 19 year old girls?! Art thou insane?!! That means my little sister could be a missionary in a year if she wanted! That doesn't even make sense!! Way way awesome though. I feel like a lot more girls are going to serve missions now. I approve. Elder Hatch and I were basically freaking out. Coolest announcements ever. This news is huge!!! Way more special for us being missionaries right now. Plus, the prophet made me laugh, as always. Watching a couple sessions in English was really the best. It is just not the same in Spanish. It's not an issue of whether or not I can understand it, because I can understand both languages. But, think of it this way, if you had to choose between hearing the prophet's voice, or hearing somebody else just repeating what the prophet said, which would you chose?... not the one that's in Spanish! The emotion, humor, love, and even a bit of the spirit is lost in the dub. I can't enjoy it in Spanish. I can enjoy it a lot in English. It was super good. Especially that first session on Saturday. That was my favorite. I also saw the Sunday morning one in English with all the rest of the gringos in my Zone. English really makes a huge difference. Also, Sunday morning I saw something that I have never ever seen in Peru before. You might say it was a miracle. Elder Perea and I showed up really early to the conference, because our ward council that we were supposed to have before conference got cancelled because not enough people showed up because they were "too tired." Typical. Anyway, conference starts at 11:00 here. We showed up at like 9:15, and I witnessed a miracle... There was a fairly big group of people outside the chapel, waiting to get in for the conference. Or, in other words, for the first time in the history of my entire mission, people were early for something!!!! I couldn't believe it! People were early!! It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. That session the chapel was filled. Super full. One other really weird thing that I couldn't understand was that in Priesthood session there was this old lady in there watching it. Hahahaha. My fave talks this time around were probably Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk on Saturday morning, and Elder Holland's and President Monson's talks Sunday morning. There were a lot of good ones though. And I liked Sister Dibb's because of Eugene. Anyway, I'm super glad I finally got to see conference again. :)

Well, conference was definitely one of the highs of my mission recently. However, there was one other event this week which was huge for me... get ready for it... I GOT TO DRINK MOUNTAIN DEW FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OVER A YEAR THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, finally my year-long Mountain Dew fast ended. I have been searching high and low for Mountain Dew for the past year and I've never seen any hint of it. Last week the assistants went to Jaén with President Risso and his wife, and on Monday they got back. They came into the office and Elder Hatch told me that he had something for me. He opened his backpack, and pulled out two cans of Mountain Dew!!! TWO CANS!!! Best surprise ever!!!!! Most awesomest thing in the world. On Wednesday we had the monthly Zone Leader meeting, and Elder Martinez and Elder Meza, who are the zone leaders in Cajamarca, both at separate times noticed the Dew can on my desk and they both offered to send me more Mountain Dew from Cajamarca, because they have it there. Yes, they are awesome. Apparently they have all different types there, including Voltage. I NEED VOLTAGE!! Elder Meza also told me that they sell Pepsi Blue there... wait, what?! Pepsi Blue?!!?!?!! That drink has been extinct for years!!! He said he'd try to send me some of that too. PEPSI BLUE ARE YOU SERIOUS? Oh yeah, and then today we went grocery shopping and I had a little bit of extra cash to blow, and so I bought some nice gringo foods like sour cream and onion Pringles, sour gummy worms, and some Popcorn that had Star Wars Episode 1 ads on it (which may or may not have been the reason I bought it. Don't judge me. Seeing Star Wars Episode 1 being advertised takes me right back to first grade, which is when that movie came out). Yes, I am eating like a king tonight!

Also, last Monday was Elder Chero's birthday. I hate birthdays in Peru. They are the worst thing ever, and I don't want to have a birthday here at all. However, it was a pretty normal day. That night President and Sister Risso came to the office to take the six of us office guys out to dinner at Real Plaza for Elder Chero's birthday. Going to Real Plaza is always weird for me because it's so modern. It's basically just like something you'd find back home. It's like stepping into an alternate reality for just a minute. Think big outdoor mall like the places we usually go in California. That's what it's like. With a giant outdoor food court in the middle, which is where my delicious McDonald's is. But, for Chero's birthday, we went to KFC. I've never been the biggest fan of KFC, but one thing I've always loved from there are their biscuits and gravy... which don't exist here. Boo!! But it was still pretty okay even without the biscuits I guess. It was fun at least. After that we all went back to the room to wait for the inevitable eggs getting smashed on Chero's head to happen. It happened pretty quick. For Elder Chero's birthday I promised him I would not smash any eggs on his head, because I think it's a crappy thing to do. I kept that promise real good. But it got out of hand and turned into an egg and cake fight between everyone. I got egged and caked too. Gosh dangit I hate these birthdays!! I also gave him my BYU-I shirt because he wanted it for some reason. Haha. Looks like I'll never be able to enter the BYU-I gym again!... until I buy another one. But yeah, birthdays here are ridiculous. Not excited to have one.

Like I said before, on Wednesday was the Zone Leader meeting that we have every month. Those are always pretty cool. The best part is always President Risso's talk because he gives the coolest talks ever. But, partway through the meeting, I got one of those killer headaches I told you about, and felt miserable the rest of the day. After the meeting we all went out to eat, and I could barely eat anything. Later as I was working in the office, I started to feel super cold, which, considering how freaking hot it is here, is not normal. Elder Samamé is in charge of the sick people so he gave me some medicine and told me to rest. We had some important appointments that night and I was determined to go to them regardless of how awful I felt, but as I was getting ready to head out the door I decided that I did in fact feel too sick to leave, and Elder Samamé left with Elder Perea to go teach my lessons for me. That wasn't super fun. I truly am scared for my health out here. I'm just praying that permanent damage is not being done. I can handle feeling worse than average while I'm here, but if this continues when I get home, I will not be happy. Speaking of food, today I ate chicken and rice.

Oh yeah! And you know what else happened this week?! This week means I have officially been living in a foreign country for over a year! That is really super weird to me. It doesn't feel like it. I still find myself thinking at times how I can't believe any of this is real. This is so different than anything I've ever known. This is so distant from the reality I once knew. But somehow, it's still my same life, even if everything is completely different. Do not understand.

This week in the office I had to solve a lotta problems that a lotta missionaries are having with their JPMorgan cards. Looks like the last batch of cards I got were all duds and so like four missionaries were not able to withdraw any money this month. Had to order new cards. Kind of annoying. Taught a few lessons this week, had some good ones, invited people to conference, people told us they'd come, and then didn't come, y'know, the usual. Transfers are coming up which means a couple real hectic days. It also means saying goodbye to Elder Choc who's two years are up and he's flying back home to Guatemala next Monday! Noo!! He was a really great comp.

Sam, I'm not gonna pick a favorite NFL team. Why NFL anyway? When have I ever even seen an NFL game other than the Super Bowl which I only watched for the commercials?! You could have at least asked me to pick a college team. At least I sometimes watch college games. Sometimes. Not picking one!! Haha!

Anyway I'm jealous that you guys all got to go to the temple without me. I wanna go to the temple! It's not even fair! I never even knew how great of an experience it was to go to the temple until right before my mission, and then just as I find out it’s something I enjoy, I get sent off to Peru with no temple access for two years! No fair!! I really do miss it terribly. I started to really appreciate it more than ever in Lima. I had some really strong faith building experiences in my last two temple trips in Lima. And I'm also jealous that you went to Fuddruckers after!! I don't know what was wrong with the youth when I was in young mens and going to temple trips. When I first started, we went to Fuddruckers every time, and it was awesome, and then people started getting crazy ideas about wanting to eat at Sweet Tomatoes and Subway. Are you kidding me?!!!?! Both of those ideas were horrible! I'm glad it changed back to Fuddruckers. Though a tad late. And I'm also jealous that Dad and Sam got to go to Seattle afterwards! This is probably really weird, but Seattle makes me think of Angels & Airwaves, because their album LOVE came out the same day we drove to Seattle once, and I listened to that album the entire drive there and the entire time we were in Seattle, and now whenever I miss my music, and I think of Angels & Airwaves, I think of Seattle, and I want to go there. I don't even know why. It happens more frequently than it probably should. Honestly, I just miss the Pacific Northwest in general. And I don't mean the Pacific Northwest of South America, because I'm there. I miss the green and the not-hot, and even (you're not going to believe this...) the rain!! I've really grown to love the place I live a million times more than I ever used to love it since I've been gone. I think I used to live in heaven. Back when I was at home I always considered southern California my favorite place, and I still love that place a ton, but really, my home was heaven.

Bryn, I hope the SATs go/went well. Hehe, that must be boring. I remember when I took the ACT it was like the most boring day of my life. But somehow I survived and went on to lead a highly successful life filled with comfort and joy... Without studying.

Anyway. Before I go, one thing I really liked a ton about conference was Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk on Saturday morning. The whole time I was watching that I was just thinking to myself I want to show this talk to everybody I know!! He really did a great job of explaining what I'm out here doing and why I decided to do it. I really liked it a lot a lot. To anyone who's interested in learning about what I'm doing as a missionary, why I decided to do it, and what I believe, I would like to invite you to watch this video. One year ago, this man changed my life, simply by walking into the same room I was in, allowing me to experience one of the strongest impressions of the Spirit I've ever felt in my entire life as it confirmed to my heart that this man truly is an Apostle of Jesus Christ. That was an impression so powerful I could never deny it. I love Elder Nelson, and I really enjoyed what he had to say. Here is the video for anybody who is interested:

Okay, I love you all and I miss you a lot. Mom, I was gonna ask for more things you could send me, but I can't remember any of them. Oops! Maybe later.

Stay awesome please!

-Elder Hemsley

Victor also sent some more pictures.  Here are just a few (if you want to see the rest, just click on the slideshow at the top of this blog):

"Elder Chero's birthday dinner!"

"I've been waiting for this moment my whole life!!!"

"Little pieces of heaven."

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