Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"I took the biggest leap of faith in my life making the choice to do this (serve a mission). I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But something inside me gently pushed me in the right direction, helped me take this leap of faith, and now here I am, sitting here in unbelief at how much my life has been blessed."

Oh man, I'm tired. I'm just so tired all the time. Here in the office, it’s not a physical tiredness, but a mental one. It wears me out sometimes! I like it here a lot, but a part of me can't wait to go back to normal proselyting 24/7. I had a good week though, tiredness aside. Let's see what I can remember...

Well, something cool that I forgot to tell you last week was that just as I started writing my last e-mail to you guys, someone rang the office doorbell (I just realized how weird it is to have a doorbell in Peru...). Elder Cabrera went to go answer it, and then came back telling me that a Brother William was here to see me from Olmos. Whoa are you serious?! So, my ol' pal William stopped by to visit me! He was getting his laptop fixed in Chiclayo, and he knew I was in the office now so he asked some members here where the office was so he could see if he could find me. He got lucky, because we're not normally here on Mondays in the morning! So we got to talk a bit and he told me about Olmos and how everything's going out there. Basically it sounds like everything is awesome back in Olmos! Silvia and Edwin are still way active in the church. Edwin's going to go to the temple on Saturday with the district! So cool!! Going to the temple is a big deal here, because it's soo far away. Jeez, and I used to complain about having to drive two hours to get to the temple, when people in Utah basically each have their own personal temple in their backyard (Okay, a little bit of an exaggeration... hehe. But come on, Provo's gonna have two temples. No fair!). William also told me that there are now like five guys in the branch who are preparing to serve missions, including himself, and Edwin (who's gotta wait a year, but still!). And then he told me that just the day before he submitted his mission papers and is now waiting for his mission call!! No way!! Also one guy who's about our age who had no desires to serve a mission when I was there all the sudden got stoked on the idea and is getting ready to go now. Church attendance is higher, everything's lookin' great back in Olmos. And one of the coolest things, one of the investigators of Elder Lobato and mine got baptized!! A girl named Ulyssa, who we visited a few times, and we were just super sure she was gonna progress so fast and get baptized, but then her dad who doesn't like the church told us she couldn't go to church anymore and couldn't visit with us either. So, we were kinda forced to stop visiting her. But apparently she just got baptized a couple weeks ago! Too cool!! It was way fun to see and talk to William again. I miss Olmos! I wanna go back!!

“Visit from William!”

Monday afternoon President and Sister Risso and the assistants got back from Jaén, and on Tuesday President and Sister Risso brought me a chocolate cake to the office for my birthday. Mmmm... No cake in the face this time either. That was fun! I also got some little presents from Hermana Yataco's daughters and a card from their family and the other missionaries. Pretty awesome. :)

This week we went to go have a Family Home Evening with Peter's family. This kid never ceases to amaze me! He conducted the FHE (FHE's are a lot more formal here. Something I'm not sure I like. Actually, I don't like it.), and picked the hymns. While all of us were singing, reading out of our hymn books, Peter already had all the songs memorized and didn't even open his book. He also told us that he was giving a talk in primary on Sunday and that he was preparing for that. I've never seen a little kid--or anyone really--who's been so prepared to accept the gospel like this! We went back to visit him again later in the week and asked him how he was doing with his talk. He said they gave him two scriptures to base his talk on. We asked him what they were, and instead of telling us, he recited the scriptures to us from memory. And one of them was like six verses long! Haha, he's the coolest kid. If everything works out with his family's schedule, he's gonna get baptized on Saturday!

Oh yeah, and this week was the one-year mark in the mission field! November 15th was when I left the MTC and flew out here to Chiclayo. Pretty neat! I don't know how time has flown like it has. When I started my mission, two years seemed like it was going to last an eternity. 24 months is a long time!! But, it's gone unbelievably fast and I seriously feel like I'm going to be home in no time. Time is a weird thing.

Had some fun times this week. A lot of laughing. A lot of fun times with the other missionaries I live with. I feel so lucky that I get to live with all these guys. It’s so different than just living alone with your companion. It's a lot more fun. This week we had a ward mission night activity (Okay, do those even exist back home? Because when I got here and heard about these "noches misionales" or "mission nights" I had no idea what they were talking about). Elder Perea and I with Elder Cabrera and Elder Samamé threw it together super last second but it turned out pretty fun for the members. Started out by watching a couple of short videos. That part was probably a little too boring for everyone. But then I decided I had to save the day and went way out of my comfort zone to bring some energy to the activity and make people laugh. I'm kind of surprised I was able to make myself do that. From there us missionaries acted out a short skit that was purely to entertain (the kids were all cracking up) and then we finished it off by playing some games with everyone. The members had fun. It turned out well!

Anyways I was really excited about getting your letters this week. When they finally came, I was disappointed... Know why? Because they didn't all come! I didn't get a letter from Mom!! Why why why!?!?!?!?! Though, nobody said in their letters "Uh Victor, bad news, Mom died," so I'm at least fairly confident that that's not the reason. But that was a bummer. But the rest of the letters were awesome as usual. This week I even got a nice birthday card from the Swensons! So, that was awesome. And last week I complained to you guys about not ever telling me that Star Wars 7 was announced, but it's a-okay because Aunt Kim made sure to pass the news along to me in the card. STAR WARS!!

I liked hearing about the Guatemala trip from Dad. It sounded like it was really fun! And the whole price negotiating thing happens here too. Except I don't really like to do it. I miss everything having a non-negotiable set price. Because here, from my experience, it's not really super true that you can negotiate to get a better price. In my experience, the people will initially offer to sell you something for way more than it's worth, and then you can negotiate with them to get it down to the normal price that it should be. Getting a good deal has not happened too often to me. And plus, the people see me, a gringo, and automatically bump up the price. Dumb. It was the worst when Elder Despain was my companion. We were two North Americans together, but it seemed like the people just saw us as giant dollar signs sometimes. When Elder Despain got transferred and Elder Choc came along, that didn't happen quite as often. But still, usually I'll always have my Latin companions flag down taxis and stuff because if I do it then it's like an automatic extra sol we have to pay.

It's safe to say that I would never even consider a career in accounting after this. Financial Secretary my butt! I don't hate what I do, but it's definitely not something I would ever pursue, or ever want to do again. I'm gonna work at Game Crazy... oh wait, Game Crazy got dragged to an early grave with Hollywood Video :(

Yeah, I am taking multi-vitamins that you sent me. I hope they're helping. Considering how not-great I always feel, I'd hate to imagine how I'd be feeling if I wasn't taking the vitamins. Yikes. I am just so sick of rice!!!

Jacqueline's seeing a ton of movies these days. She's always telling me about the movies she saw. Not fair! Jack, do you still have that list of movies we have to watch when I get back? Keep it up-to-date! The other day I was thinking of some movie, and I don't even remember what it was, but all I know is that every time I thought about it I had to try really hard not to laugh out loud. Don't forget about the funny ones!

Bryn's doing awesome in school these days. That is the miracle of Classic South. That's what happened to me! My grades got so much better! Woo! Honestly every time you tell me about high school it makes me miss high school a lot. And I miss college too. But I don't miss studying, or homework. So... yeah. (But I guess that's why I liked senior year so much, because I barely had homework and barely had to study because of it.)

Sam likes football too much. Jeez Sam why don't you just play a video game or something?! Why don't you just sit at home and eat chips and watch TV all day?! Why don't you do something productive like play all the way through Ocarina of Time in one day, or make a blog where you post really in-depth theories about Star Wars and what "bringing balance to the Force" actually means, or about how Leia tells Luke that she remembers her real mother even though her mother died like 30 seconds after she was born? Think of all the productive things you could do! Like buy one can of every flavor of Mountain Dew and mix them all together and see what it tastes like. Haha. These are all great ideas that now that I've suggested them to you I want to do them. 

Mom, I hope I get whatever you wrote in the next batch of letters. They normally come on Friday or Saturday.

K well I'm gonna go be a financial secretary and do some money stuff. I think I'll leave you with one of this week's journal entries. Most nights I just feel worn out and even though I have stuff I want to write about I barely write anything because I'm tired. But then there are other random nights where I just write a ton. But mostly not. Anyway, here goes:


Boring!! Long office day. Had computer issues. Bleh.

Today is my one-year mark in the mission field! One year ago today I left the MTC, arrived here in Chiclayo, saw mototaxis for the first time in my life, got my first companion, took a two hour bus ride at night to my first area, got to Pacasmayo, took my first mototaxi, got to our room, there was no electricity, couldn't see a thing, did a quick planning session with a flashlight, tried to write in my journal, and went to sleep, hours away from waking up to experience the biggest culture shock of my life. I still remember how I felt my first few days and weeks in Pacasmayo. I couldn't believe that a place like that really existed. I was totally blown away. I couldn't believe it was real life. I still feel like that sometimes. Actually, I still feel like that a lot. I can't believe that this is really happening. I can't believe that I left home at 19 to go live in Peru without my family. I can't believe I'm here right now, working in an office in Chiclayo as a financial secretary for a major organization in a different language. For free. I can't believe I'm here at all. I've thought about that a lot since I've started the mission. I can't even believe I'm doing this. Me. The lazy kid who doesn't like to be away from home for long periods of time. The kid who loves music, and video games, and wasting time. The kid who loves being with my family. The kid who loves being irreverent and obnoxious with my friends. The kid who didn't try hard in school. The kid who never wanted to go to any church activities, and never wanted to read his scriptures. I feel like I know myself pretty well, and just the fact that I'm here, in some weird way, is a huge testimony builder to me. Because I know myself, and I know that this is so ridiculously far off from anything I would ever decide to do... Yet for some reason I decided to do it. Being a missionary conflicts with every single one of my interests. There is nothing that a missionary does that I enjoyed doing before my mission. Going on a mission meant giving up everything I love, and start doing things I don't love, for two years. But I wasn't forced to come here. I was never once told that I had to go on a mission. Serving a mission conflicts with every interest I have and contradicts the way I was living my life and would have been happy continuing to live my life, yet, for some reason, I still decided to do it. And that is sort of a miracle to me; because I know me, and I know that when something is so drastically different from what I like, and so far out of my comfort zone, I will look for every reason not to do it. You could give me all the reasons in the world for why I should do it, but I still won't want to, and I will fight it. But I didn't fight this. There was something different about this decision. There was something more powerful than just "good reasons" or "convincing arguments" for why I should do this. Something more certain. I just knew this was something I needed to do (which, under normal circumstances, even that, knowing that I need to do something, isn't enough to convince me to do it). I knew it meant putting everything that I love away for a long time, and that I likely won't even like doing it. But there was something telling me that it was something I needed to do. Something more powerful than the persuasion of a parent or a church leader; something more certain. I just knew. I took the biggest leap of faith in my life making the choice to do this. I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But something inside me gently pushed me in the right direction, helped me take this leap of faith, and now here I am, sitting here in unbelief at how much my life has been blessed. I never expected things to be like this. I never thought things could be like this.

Alright, see you guys! I miss you a ton! Am I really for real officially an adult now? Because that's kind of gross. I don't wanna grow up! I'm a Toys R Us kid! Especially the part of Toys R Us that sells the Legos. Star Wars Legos. I'm gonna live life Peter Pan style.


-Elder Hemsley

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