Dude dude dude it's November my birthday is this week duuuuuuude!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hello family who is currently scattered all over the world. My family is currently in three different countries. Wat. Kinda neato that you guys are in Guatemala right now. I assume Guatemala City is a lot different than Chiclayo. I looked up some pictures and it looks like it's a little closer to what home is like than this place is. But at the same time I'm sure there are plenty of similarities and you're at least getting a hint of what my life has been like for the past year, and getting a feel for Latin American culture. All I've really learned about Guatemala is that Guatemalans shower differently than the rest of the world. Yes, that is weird. No, I haven't watched any of my three Guatemalan companions take a shower, but all three of them have turned the water on and off a million times during their showers, while every other companion from every other country showers normal with the water running the entire time. I dunno what goes on in there, but it involves a lot of turning the water on and off. Haha. Maybe Mom knows something about that. That's about all I know about Guatemalan culture. And apparently "Guatemalan Time" isn't as bad as "Peruvian Time," but it's still an issue. Sometimes my companions ask me "if Peruvian Time is like this, than what would United States Time be?" and I'm like "United States Time would mean showing up ten minutes early to something to make sure that it can start exactly on time." Hehe. Oh how I miss being able to work with a functioning schedule.
Anyway I guess this past week was Halloween. Wanna know what Halloween is like here? I wasn't really sure what to expect, because they have been selling Halloween candy 'n stuff at the stores. But then Halloween rolled along, and... nothing. Nothing happens on Halloween. My journal explains it well:
Happy Halloween! There's no light, no candy, no food, no hot water, no nuthin'! Worst Halloween. I'm hungry. The only food I have needs electricity to prepare. Unless I want to eat sandwich bread or hot dog buns for dinner. Bleh.
Lots of office today. We made this new schedule for what times the zone leaders need to come by. The problem is, it’s really hard to have a working schedule in a culture where nobody lives by a schedule. Not seein' a lot of success.
Writing without electricity takes too much effort. I'm sleepy.
Lolz. This week we continued to live a few nights without electricity. But it looks like it's come back for good now. Hopefully!
But Halloween has passed, which means my birthday is comin' right up! The other day I realized my birthday is going to fall on a Saturday this year... When I realized that I pretty much wanted to shove my face in the paper shredder, because SATURDAY = EATING LUNCH WITH MEMBERS (meaning he often gets sick after eating at member’s homes). NOOOOOOooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I already had one bad birthday in the mission (well, it wasn't really bad, it’s just that literally nothing happened.) and I'm not about to let that turn into two bad birthdays. So, I made the necessary arrangements and this Saturday we're not eating with members and we're going to eat with Mami Yataco instead, because she's the best and her food is some of the only food I feel safe eating in Peru. She's going to make me tacos! Woo! Pretty much copying Bryn's birthday. Hermana Yataco is really just the nicest person in the entire world I think. She asked me what I wanted her to get me for my birthday. I was just like "aw, no, you don't have to get my anything! The tacos are an awesome enough present." But she wants to get me something. She asked if I liked soccer jerseys (haha). I said yeah, and then she asked me what team I liked best. Psh, like I even know any soccer teams! But she's from Columbia, so I told her I wanted a Columbia jersey. Haha. We'll see. There is this family from Olmos that lives with the Yatacos. They have a daughter named Rosemary who's an RM whose birthday also happens to be the 10th, so it looks like it’s gonna be a double birthday! Gosh dangit if I get egged... I think I might be able to be spared the egging, but I'm almost certainly gonna get caked in the face. Expect photos. I'll tell you about it next week! I did get the second package, and I did not open it this time. I also got a card from G&G Paul that I realized was for my birthday so I'm also keeping that safe until my birthday when I'll finally read it.
This past week turned out a lot different than we expected. Tomorrow we have the monthly zone leaders council, and this time I'm gonna give a big presentation to everyone and teach them the very basics of how to use their zone funds all over again. I need to make a big PowerPoint and basically it's this whole big deal that I wasn't expecting would take me such a long time to prepare. I spent all day Saturday working on it, and it’s not even done! Which means I don't really get a p-day today. Just taking a little time to write this e-mail and then I gotta get back to work! If I do a good job, it will solve a heck of a lot of problems for the mission though. So, let's hope I do a decent job! Been kinda stressing me out a bit.
We didn't get to teach a whole lot this week. However, we still had some pretty good success. We had a couple of appointments with Dennis and Gustavo, but they both fell through. We didn't get to see them again until yesterday, but they're still way stoked to get baptized and now we just gotta keep visiting them to help them prepare for and understand what they're doing. Pretty awesome kids. Yesterday we also went to visit this inactive family. They were in the middle of moving, so we helped lug a buncha stuff upstairs to help them, which for some reason just made me really happy (some of my favorite parts of the mission are serving people, rather than teaching them), and then we had a nice visit with them. They all want to come back to church, and come to the activities, and they want to have an FHE with us, and they have a nine year old son who is not baptized who wants to get baptized! So, we're planning for a baptism on December 1st. So that's three upcoming baptisms we have! But wait! There's more!! Call now and we'll throw in this laser, TO INCINERATE YOUR ENEMIES WITH!!! Yours free... Uh, I mean... We have other people who are also totally gonna get baptized soon too but they just don't have a set date yet. Yesterday at church I was talking to little Peter (he shared his awesome testimony with the congregation during testimony meeting. He's not even a member of the church and this is his second time!!) and took him to meet the bishop. The bishop said that if Peter's mom comes to church next week that they'll set a baptismal date. Woo! And then I learned that Peter is nine years old (I thought he was eight! Maybe he just had a birthday.) which means that this baptism will even count for the mission. Which doesn't really matter, but it will make our zone leaders happy when we report more baptisms. Haha. And, yesterday this other kid who we've never seen before came to church in a suit and tie and everything and basically he wants to get baptized and Elder Perea and I are just so confused about where all these baptisms are coming from when we're hardly even teaching anyone!! Plus, Elder Samamé and Elder Cabrera, who share our ward, have two baptismal dates set and other possible baptisms too. When I reported to the ZLs that our district has five baptismal dates with more on the way the ZLs were pretty surprised. Haha. So, we're all pretty stoked right now.
This past Friday one member's eight year old son also got baptized. So we got to be there for that. It was... nice... I guess. Well, actually, let's just turn back to some quotes from my journal entry that night:
"Saying there is no reverence in Peruvian baptisms is an understatement."
"It’s like everyone in attendance always tries their absolute hardest to chase the Spirit away and make sure it doesn't come back. And they're successful!"
"People here have such a strange, and strong fear of water... [He] really, really, really, didn't want to get dunked. So we had to wait like 45 minutes for it to happen."
Probably the most chaotic baptism I have ever seen.
Sunday was a similar experience. Fast Sunday. Testimony Meeting. We're sitting there in the chapel, trying to listen to the testimonies. Next door, some unreasonably loud construction is going on. On the other side, a huge party with crappy electronic music blasting into the church. To top it all off, for some reason the microphone wasn't working yesterday. Anyone more than three rows back couldn't hear a thing. I was just sitting there almost wanting to cry as I'm trying to tune into the Spirit but can't even hear myself think because of all the background noise. So awful. It's so difficult to have reverence here. It's so difficult.
This week I also learned something real cool. I was reading on the church website that on a normal week, usually about 700 people start their missionary applications. However, since the announcement about the change in age requirements for missionaries, that number has jumped from 700 a week, to 4,000 a week!!! And that more than half of the applications are from women! Wow!! So awesome!!!! Elder Hatch and I were way stoked on that. And then when I read your letters this week I learned about how a lot of girls from Eugene 3rd are thinking about serving now. Coolest thing ever! Wow, we could have a ton of missionaries out in the field next year. Eugene 3rd is gonna dominate the world with missionaries! How many are currently out? Myself, Zach, David... anyone else? Porter basically counts. Anyway, that's pretty awesome to me. I'm probably gonna be back home before we really start feelings the effects of the age change announcement in the mission field, but still, it's going to be such a huge blessing for everyone.
Sounds like life back home is still okay. Jacqueline's driving on the freeway. What the heck I don't even remember how to drive! I remember driving on the freeway always seemed like it would be the scariest but it was actually the easiest. Bryn was sick on her birthday!! Been there. That's no fun. You guys pretty much hit the nail right on the head about how I feel about Bryn's birthday:
From Dad: "Bryn turned 18 this afternoon about 2pm, PST. How did that happen? I thought you just turned 18!"
From Bryn: "It's pretty hard for me to believe that I'm 18 already! I still feel like you're 18!!"
Seriously, how is this even possible? I still feel like I'm 18 too!! I'm serious. I don't feel like I should be turning 21. I swear I'm still a teenager. What is going on here. Why am I getting old so fast?! I wasn't done being a kid :(
And Bryn's gonna vote too. That's weird, considering I've never even voted. I was seriously considering voting. I even got my absentee ballot and everything all ready to go and I have all the papers right here in the office so that I can vote. Then I looked at how many pieces of paper it was and decided it was too much work and I don't even know anything about either of the candidates and it would be stupid and irresponsible of me to just randomly pick one of them and hope it was a good choice. I'm not going to vote Romney just because he's a Mormon. And I'm not going to vote Obama just because of all of his Hope posters he put up four years ago. I don't know anything about either one of them. I grew up in a place where everyone and their cat is a Democrat and all my life I've heard everyone talks bad about Republicans and Bush etc... Then I went to college and everyone in Rexburg is a Republican and everyone talks bad about Democrats and about Obama. I've only ever known two extremes. Two extremely biased cultures. I don't have a good idea of what or who I should be voting for. So, I'm not gonna. Not this time.
Look at what Sam keeps telling me!!:
"We got tacos and we got cake. It was chocolate mousse cake. You should be here. You miss out on all the good food. What kind of good food have you had recently? OHHHHH YEAH I had like 10 things of Mtn Dew Voltage. It was so gooooooooood!!!!!"
Hahaha you jerk. But secretly I think all of your letters are really funny.
This morning I was looking back through some of the first letters I ever received as a missionary. I was looking for one specific letter I got from one of my best friends last year for my birthday. But as I was looking for that letter (it's hard because all the Dear Elders look the exact same!) I kept passing by other letters from you guys (mostly from Sam and Jacqueline) that kept mentioning things about Rocket and how he's so weird and so funny and how he likes to eat the blueberries in our back yard and how he misses me and it started making me feel really sad. I really, really miss that guy a ton. I always used to imagine what it would be like coming home and my favorite part was always thinking about what Rocket's reaction would be to seeing me after two years. I barely got to spend any time with him with my year away at school and my year in the mission. But I really liked that guy a whole lot. I miss Rocket so much...
Well, I gotta get going. Super busy today. I love you all a whole ton! Hope Mom and Dad have fun in Guat. Hope the rest have fun in the good ol' United States of Awesome. Thanks for the letters :) The day that I found out about how much the missionary applications had spiked I wrote about it in my journal, and this is what I wrote:
I learned on the Church website that on a normal week about 700 missionary applications are filled out around the world. However, since Conference, that number has jumped from 700, to 4,000!!! Wow!! And more than half of them are girls!! So cool!! Gonna flood the world with missionaries. So stoked!! I'm probably gonna be at home before we feel a noticeable difference in the mission, but still, so rad!! I really wish everyone could have this experience. I'm still waiting hopefully to hear that some friends have decided to serve. Waiting and praying. I don't always love the mission, and I don't always love my companion, and I don't love working hard, but the things I've learned and the experiences I've had and the countless blessings I've received are priceless. If I would have known before the mission how much it was going to change my life, I would have been a lot more excited to come out here than I was. These blessings are worth whatever it takes to receive them. I don't think I would have been able to come to know my Heavenly Father on such a personal level in any other way. I cannot wait until I get home, but I wouldn't give up these past 14 months, or the 10 months I have left for anything. It’s so much more than I thought it would be. It’s all worth it.