Monday, October 22, 2012

"Oh yeah, something really bad happened this week too. It’s that on Saturday, for the first time in my entire mission, I FORGOT TO WRITE IN MY JOURNAL!!! NoooooOOoOoOoO!!!!"

Hey, I'm tired.

Pretty different week this week. Transfer weeks are strange. But good! Last Monday after I e-mail you guys we got to go see off all the missionaries who were headed home. Said bye to my ol' comp Elder Choc. I miss that guy! He's back in Guatemala now. Maybe you'll run into him when you go (not really, he lives hours away from the capital). Then later that same night we got to pick up the new missionaries at the airport. When new groups show up we take them to the mission home for dinner their first night. Always delish! So, that means that last Saturday we got to eat at the mission home for Elder Hatch's birthday / saying goodbye to those who were getting transferred out of the office, and then again on Monday we got to eat dinner at the mission home. Two mission home dinners in one week? No complaints here! The next morning was actual transfer day, and its always fun to go to the transfer meetings to see where everyone's going 'n stuff. Like always, us office guys had the ol' welcome meeting for the new missionaries. This time, no North Americans came, so I was spared translating duty. Thankfully. Then we got to eat KFC. Mmm. Well, sort of mmm... The quality of the food dips drastically when we buy it in such big quantities. McDonald's fries, which are by far one of the tastiest foods on the planet, are not good when you buy them for 50 people. Not here at least. I dunno, McD's has never let me down at home before. But I've also never bought 50 orders of fries. Bleh. And it’s even worse with KFC fries which weren't even that good to begin with. 

Anyways, speaking of transfers, though I'm staying put here in Chiclayo, I am apparently now District Leader of the office district, which is made up of my companion and me, and the two other secretaries. My entire mission I've been in districts of only four people. In Pacasmayo, in Olmos, and here too. Which is weird, because districts that small are not common. But yeah I'm District Leader now. So, on Wednesday we had our district and zone meetings and I got to give my first district meeting class as a District Leader. Kinda cool I s'pose. I spoke on recognizing the Spirit and how to help others recognize it too. Used some Preach my Gospel, some D&C, a conference talk, and had everyone participate. Went a lot better than expected actually. I've given the class in district meetings before and they were alright but never that great. This one was cool. I had everyone share experiences they've had where they've been able to feel the Spirit in their lives or follow an impression they've received. Luckily for me, considering the topic of the lesson, the Spirit was there in the class with us. I felt it strong. At the end of the class Elder Cabrera told me that he felt the Spirit really strong too, especially when I shared my personal experience. Elder Castillo, one of our Zone Leaders, was there for the lesson too, and last night as I was reporting the district's numbers for the first time he told me that my lesson on Wednesday was really powerful and that he really liked it a lot too. So, I guess I did alright. Thank goodness! I'm not used to teaching missionaries. But, it was cool.

On Thursday we had a meeting in the office with President and Hermana Risso which was basically a welcome meeting to the two new guys who are now in the office. Elder Infante is the new Assistant, taking the place of Elder Chuiz, and Elder Cabrera is the new Secretary of Records (I assume that's what it is in English), taking Elder Chero's spot. Fun meeting. President Risso once again stressed that he does not pick the best missionaries to work in the office, and that we're not an "elite group" or anything. Then he flat out told us "you guys aren't the best missionaries." Hahaha. But he said "but you are the ones we can trust the best with these responsibilities." So I thought that was kinda cool. I don't know why I'm being trusted to be in charge of the money for the entire mission, but whatever. Hehe.

Friday was President Risso's birthday. So, the six of us office guys went to the mission home in the morning to bring President Risso a surprise birthday cake! I was either never told, or just didn't understand what they told me we were going to do, but when we got there, I ended up being the one who was surprised as I realized that we were going to stay and eat breakfast together with President and Hermana Risso! My third meal in the mission home in one week!! And, it was the best breakfast ever!! By far the most delicious breakfast I've had since I left home. You know why? Because it was waffles. WAFFLES!!! I never expected to eat waffles in Peru! Basically the best thing in the world. I'm not the biggest fan of breakfast foods (which is why I order cheeseburgers for breakfast when we go out to eat breakfast in Seaside. hehe) but waffles are definitely the exception. One of my favorite foods! And really delicious hot chocolate too. Which is weird because normally the hot chocolate here is not that good. So, that was an awesome surprise!! I don't think I'll ever eat a breakfast that good again in the mission. After that we went back to the office. We set up this thing with a string that started at the office door and then went around the office to all of our desks, and at each of our desks was a picture of us and the President with a little happy birthday note written on the back. Eventually the string led to President's office to a big sign that said Féliz Cumpleaños or something like that. When President Risso showed up he followed the string around the office and loved all the photos and he thought it was fun. Kind of silly.

After that we had another meeting in the office with everyone. Two North American missionaries arrived after transfer day, and they needed their orientation meeting or whatever it is that we give to all the newbies. This time, I was given translation duty. But, Elder Hatch was there too, so we shared it. Oh boy, that was the most difficult thing in the world. For both of us! Our English has gotten so bad! It was kind of funny, but I feel like I'm going to have no idea how to talk to you guys when I get home. Here in the mission, even with other North Americans, we barely ever speak English. Sometimes we do, but the majority of the time we always speak Spanish. It's easier! Elder Hatch and I live in the same room and we're together all the time, and when we talk to each other, it's in Spanish. Occasionally we start speaking in English but by the end of the conversation we're speaking Spanish again. It's weird. It's just gonna get worse the longer I'm out here. By the time I get home I won't be able to communicate with you. Only with Mom.

Oh yeah, something really bad happened this week too. It’s that on Saturday, for the first time in my entire mission, I FORGOT TO WRITE IN MY JOURNAL!!! NoooooOOoOoOoO!!!! So that was dumb. Not pleased with myself for that one. But, I finally finished writing a letter to someone today. This is a huge landmark moment for me, because I haven't mailed a letter in so long!

One fun proselyting experience (with the little time we had to proselyte this week) was another big first for me in the mission. Yesterday, as we were knockin' some doors, for the first time in my entire mission I met someone who doesn't believe in God. Everyone and their dog believes in God and Jesus Christ and the Bible in Peru! I couldn't believe it! It was literally the first time ever. But, this lady wasn't atheist, she was a Buddhist, and she let us right in to her house. Basically, she was one of the nicest people I've met in Chiclayo. She shared a little about what she believes, which was super interesting to me, and we shared a bit about what we believe too. Honestly, it was super weird, because I have never ever ever ever taught someone who didn't have some kind of Christian foundation to their faith. I wasn't quite sure how I was going to teach it. Normally, you build on the Christian faith that someone already has. But when someone isn't Christian, then what the heck are you supposed to do?!?! I know in a lot of parts of the world, that would be way more common. Like, in Eugene. But here, it never happens, and we don't expect it. Normally it goes like, okay, you already believe in the Bible, you already know Christ is our Savior, we believe that too, this book also testifies of Jesus Christ. But, even without that, I figured we still had to find some common ground, because you can't just come in and be like "okay, well, this is 100% different than anything you believe is true, but I know it's true." So, as she was telling us about what she believed in, which was kind of fascinating to me, I realized that basically she believes all the same things we believe in already, just like... a slightly different version of it. She was telling us about our potential to become something better, how we can always improve and how our goal should be constant progression. She believes that we need to act and can't just sit around doing nothing waiting for a miracle, because we won't progress like that. She believes that after this life we will receive some sort of recompense based on how we chose to live and how much we progressed. Basically, I believe all of those exact same things! So, using that as a basis I started sharing about how basically we believe the same thing and that how we, as literal children of God, have the potential to become more like Him, but we have to make a constant effort. Stuff like that. She was happy that our beliefs were basically in tune with each other and she accepted more visits, told us she wanted to come to church with us, and invited us to what I guess would basically count as her "church" but it’s these Buddhist meeting things that they have in the houses of people who practice Buddhism. So, that was a cool experience for me. I feel like I gotta study hard for this though, because as missionaries in Peru, in the most basic dumbed-down way I can say it, we pretty much spend the whole time inviting "Christians" to become "Mormons," but I've never had to take a step backward and help someone first become a Christian. The Book of Mormon is key in this situation. Being Peruvian, this lady is familiar with the Bible, since everyone is required to study the Bible in school. But, she doesn't believe in it. I think now more than in any other situation I've been in, The Book of Mormon is going to help. Yeah, this lady has read one witness of Jesus Christ: the Bible, and she's not buying it. But, did you know that there is another witness that Jesus is the Christ, written by another ancient people on a completely different continent? Another witness from a people who had no contact whatsoever with Jerusalem and had no way of knowing what happened there? Ancient Americans believed not only in a Savior, but in the exact same Savior. They knew of the reality of Jesus Christ, and they wrote about Him, and they testified of Him, and they knew Him. That's why I love the Book of Mormon so much. In a world where for many people the Bible is not convincing evidence that Jesus is the Christ, God blessed us with a second witness, with another testament from a completely different part of the world that the same Jesus Christ is our Savior. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (1 Corinthians 13:1)" Anyway, I'm excited to see where this goes.

One funny proselyting moment was another day, also while we were tracting, we knocked on this one door. When I first got to Peru, I couldn't understand why we wasted so much time at every door. In the United States, you knock a door, or ring the doorbell, and if someone doesn't answer within like 15 seconds, you leave. Here, you knock, wait like a minute, knock again, wait like a minute, knock again, and finally someone comes out after another minute. That's one weird cultural difference. People aren't in any kind of a hurry to answer their door. If they even answer it (the worst is when someone just yells from inside "WHO IS IT?!"). Anyway, so we knocked this one door, with one of those Catholic stickers on it, and we were standing outside waiting to see if someone would answer. As we were waiting, this nun walks by, and as she's passing us, without stopping she says very accusingly "Look, it says it's a Catholic home. What are you Mormons doing here?!" ...A nun said that to us. Okay, I dunno, but I've always pictured nuns as just super sweet nice ladies. That's how I've always imagined nuns. And then this nun comes out of nowhere and says that to us. Haha. Living in a different culture, there are many moments when you see something that's strange to you and you want to laugh but you have to keep it to yourself. Well, this was one of the few times when I couldn't hold it in, and I actually LOL'd. I just thought it was so funny that a sweet little nun could be so rude. Fun times.

Church was full again this week. I'm liking this whole combined wards thing. I think it will be a huge help to the people here, and to us as well.

Well, I'm glad to know that I successfully dodged jury duty! Woo! Go me! Hehe. I liked that quote you sent me about the sister missionaries and how we spend our entire life in debt to God, but when a girl decides to serve a mission, it's one of the few times when someone can actually give a gift to their Heavenly Father. Something like that. I dunno, probably because Mom served a mission I've always grown up being super pro-sister missionary. I admire the sister missionaries so much. They are a huge inspiration and example to me. I'm excited that more girls will now get the chance to serve, because this is such a life-changing experience that I think a lot of girls miss out on. Since I've been out here and I've realized how amazing a blessing it is to serve, I've wanted more than anything for my friends and family to be able to experience these same blessings. I hope my sisters take advantage of the chance they will have to serve, because the blessings you receive out here can't be received in any other way. Other blessings can and will come after the mission. Basically, the mission is the best thing in the world for a person my age. And that's coming from me, the laziest and most "I hate working" guy ever. Too many blessings.

I'm happy to hear that Bryn is practicing the guitar. Keep it up!! And Jack and Sam need to keep practicing their strings too, so when I get back we can jam! Acoustic style! Oh, wait, Jacqueline has an electric violin! I forgot about that and forgot that it’s basically the coolest thing ever! Practice practice practice so that we can play some Yellowcard together! (Please learn to play the song "Bombers." Please!!!)

Speaking of music, I can't believe you guys actually went to that concert. Are you crazy?! Psh. Pshhhhh.

Pretty cool that Sam got to run with Nick Symmonds. Neato! And you got NCAA Football 2013 for your b-day? Are you kidding me?! Did you know that you telling me that for the first time ever in my life makes me feel old?! I remember like it just barely happened when we bought NCAA Football 2003. Have ten years really gone by that fast?! Also Madden 2003 which was basically the exact same and it introduced me to Good Charlotte and Andrew W.K. And then SSX 3 introduced me to Yellowcard. I owe everything I have to video games. Hehe.

Well, it’s almost Halloween time. I wonder what it’s gonna be like here. I'm curious. That also means that it's almost Bryn's birthday! Happy birthday on Sunday!! I'm getting tired of missing all the birthdays! And this week is also Tyler's birthday, and Uncle Ryan's birthday, and Luke's birthday, and Uncle Brad's birthday, and Lily's birthday, and Zanna's birthday, and Keegan's birthday, and Okeefe's birthday. Wow!! Happy birthday to the whole world!!!! I miss you all!!

I think it’s funny that you're going to miss my letters when I get home. Probably when I get home you'll all the sudden know nothing about my life without my weekly letters. Haha.

K, I gotta go buy some food. My companion ran outta food. Hope you have an awesome week, and that you don't miss me too bad! And that you save me some chocolate mousse!!!!


-Elder Hemsley

Here are some new pictures Victor sent this week:

"Saying goodbye to my bud Elder Choc."

"Tried to get all six of us in the photo without looking. Mission accomplished!"

"I scanned my face."

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