Hola hola hola hola!!
It’s Christmas Eve! And I’ve only wrapped… no presents. I gotta confess I totally blew it with Christmas gifts this year. Well, last year I did too. But this year I didn’t even write a single Christmas letter to nobody!! Sorry if you’ve been waiting for one. I still owe people letters from like a hundred months ago and when I can’t ever even find time to write them it’s kind of hard to skip ahead and start writing other people for Christmas. Seriously I’ve owed Hermana Rosa and her family a letter for over five months now. And other people back home for longer than that. And basically all of my converts who I haven’t been keeping in contact with! Y’know, maybe if they just made it not-against-the-rules to e-mail other people, it would be a heck of a lot easier to keep in contact with everyone. I feel bad about my letter writing situation. I feel bad for not writing my family some short Christmas letters like I did last year. You’d think in the office I’d have more time to write letters, but I actually have less. In my other areas I found the time to write the occasional letter. Here, no. Oh well. The other thing is that when I actually do write a letter and then mail it to the US I always get paranoid that it never arrived because of the long gaps of silence in between letter communications. And I also wonder how many letters have been sent to me that never got to me. Unreliable mail system.
Y´know, last October (a long time ago!!) I actually did buy two really little gifts for Dad and for Sam that I was planning to send you last Christmas but then I never did because, one, I only had presents for Dad and Sam and not Mom, Bryn, or Jacqueline, and two, its expensive to send things home. I still have them. Probably gonna hold onto them until I get home. Because I still don’t have anything for Mom, Bryn, or Jacqueline. The amount of times I’ve gone shopping in Peru is zero times. So that’s why. I’ll try to get something before I go home!
Anyways… I don’t want to bore you with repetitiveness but… THIS WAS THE BUSIEST OFFICE WEEK OF MY LIFE I SERIOUSLY WAS IN THE OFFICE THE ENTIRE FREAKING WEEK WITH NO BREAKS.
Here’s what it was like. Every Sunday we report to our zone leaders our weekly numbers in lessons, contacts, baptisms, investigators attending church, etc, etc, etc… Remember in the Best Two Years how the missionary is reporting Elder Roger’s numbers and they’re just so unreasonably low that it seems unrealistic and almost unbelievable? Well, those are the same kind of numbers I’m reporting these days. Last night I reported to Elder Tamani. Let’s turn to my journal to see what it was like:
I reported my all-time worst numbers to Elder Tamani, my zone leader, tonight. Zero, zero, zero, zero… pure zeros. With one lesson with an inactive family. The worst numbers of all time!! Elder Tamani’s response to those numbers was “Elder Hemsley… You have to write that in your journal!” So, here it is. Zeros.
I could bore you with the details of why I was in the office the entire week, but, well, it’s boring, so I don’t want to. I’ll leave it at I had to do a million and ten things and then two days ago end of month payments started, and to avoid having to do them on Christmas, I did them on Sunday. I didn’t even teach on Sunday! So, if you think I have fun things to tell you about this week, think again!
Well, I guess there was one thing. On Thursday our ward had a talent show activity for Christmas time. I’ve been to like six church talent show activities since I’ve been to Peru, and let me tell you, Peruvians have no idea what a “talent show” is. They might as well just call them “ward choir nights” because all every “talent” is, is one of the organizations singing a hymn. So boring!! And, this isn’t exactly a culture that knows how to sing either. It’s the same in all of my areas. Anyway, they asked the four of us missionaries to participate, and so we came up with a quick skit last minute (Elder Perea wanted to sing a hymn. Nooooooooooooooo…). I’m getting lazy so I’m just gonna feed you more of my journal entries so I don’t have to think:
Today was our ward talent show and us four elders performed a little skit. A stupid, funny version of the David and Goliath battle, complete with a hit “Eye of the Tiger” soundtrack. I was Goliath, and I got shot in the back of the head by a gun-wielding David. It was kind of LOLzy.
So, that was the one part of my week that wasn’t spent inside the office. The rest was spent in this same chair, in front of this same computer, the entire week.
You know what I’m thankful for? My journal. Did you know that if it weren’t for my journal, my e-mails to you would be way more boring? Every time before I e-mail you guys I go back through my journal and read about what happened in the week so I remember what stuff to tell you about. Plus, there are the times when I just pure copy and paste (well, that’s what I would do, if I could figure out a way to copy something handwritten and the paste it into the computer) entries from my journal to my e-mails for you to read. Sometimes I make it real obvious, like how I’ve been doing it in this e-mail, but lots of other times I’m just secretly feeding you journal entries without you guys knowing. I can guarantee that my e-mails would not be nearly as interesting if I didn’t keep this journal. You know what else? With all my daily journal entries (currently taking up three and a half journals!), and all these weekly e-mails, plus all the hundreds of pieces of mail I have, this two-year period of my life is almost certainly going to be the most well-documented portion of my entire life. I can’t imagine this ever happening again. But we’ll see I s’pose. The thing is, it’s the most well-documented portion of my life, but it barely even scratches the surface of what really happened! I don’t write about every single experience I have. I don’t write down every single thing that happened. There’s a huge amount of stuff that isn’t written. But, what is written, I will always be thankful for.
So, speaking of my journal, I’m just gonna feed you more journal entries. Here’s a thing that happened:
At one point today this guy called me who was like the head of Church finances in Lima, and had some questions for me about President Risso’s JPMorgan card and his spending. I explained to him some stuff and then he walked me through this thing on paymentnet and as this was happening I just had one of those “I can’t believe this is really happening” moments. Am I really secretary of finances talking with the head of Church finances in Lima in Spanish and working on closing the mission president’s card?? How is this real?! I’m still not totally convinced that all this is real. Maybe it’s all just a dream… Gosh dangit, if this has all been a dream then I’ve wasted a really huge chunk of my dream writing page after page of this non-existent journal…
I was also looking back at some of my earliest journal entries and realizing just how far I’ve really come. For example, when I was still in the MTC in Lima, and we went out to teach for real for my first time in my entire mission, and it freaked me out and left me feeling a bit down. Here’s what I wrote:
I don’t really know what to think of the experience. I just felt so inadequate and unprepared. People were coming back with all these great experiences and for the first time in my mission I’m feeling pretty discouraged and unhappy. Ugh. I need to practice so much. I am so uncomfortable with all of this. I can’t say I had a great night…
I read that the other night and I just wanted to reach out to my past self and give him a hug and tell him to hang in there!! Now, here I am, totally comfortable with the new language (though I still don’t speak perfect) and completely adjusted to life as a missionary. I’ve come a really long way. I’ve changed a whole lot.
And then I found some other journal entries that I thought were funny:
Today for breakfast we had what I like to call a mayonnaise sandwich. It was gross. Bread, with mayonnaise, and a tiny bit of eggs, and some tomatoes. Once upon a time a wise man once told me the secret to making a good mayonnaise sandwich. He said if you don’t put enough mayonnaise on it, it tastes bad, and if you put too much mayonnaise on it then… it still tastes good. Yep. That’s what I was taught years ago. There must not have been enough mayonnaise in there because it tasted nasty. Except mayonnaise is gross anyway so adding more, or “too much” wouldn’t have helped. Side note: They give us coffee for breakfast here [in the MTC in Lima]. Fer realz.
Worst. Halloween. Ever.
Here’s what we did for Halloween: nothing. That’s even worse than Halloween on a Sunday at BYU Idaho!
Hahaha for some reason that made me laugh. Journals are fun.
Anyway, Jacqueline, yes, keyboards are kind of weird here. I’m mostly used to it, but my muscle memory still wants to type the way we type in the United States of Awesome. It’s confusing. All the punctuation is different.
Snow! I missed snow!! I like how when it snows at home it’s like a big deal to me, but I studied two semesters in deep freezing snow and I didn’t care. Haha. Aww, I miss snow. I miss cold. These hot Christmases are just not doing it for me.
A new dog?!?! You’re getting a new dog?!??!??! Or maybe you already did? Hmm, I think I’m not going to make friends with this one, so I won’t be sad when he goes to doggy heaven. Actually, I feel like this is the exact same situation we were in when we got Rocket. You guys wanted a dog, and I didn’t want a dog, and then in the end I ended up loving Rocket anyway. Same thing. Don’t want another dog. Probably will love it anyway. Does it have a name yet? I got to pick Rocket’s name, but I feel like I need to throw some suggestions out there. Some of them leftover suggestions that we didn’t end up using for Rocket. Take your pick of the following!:
Brother of Jared
Happy Mask Salesman
Mr. Game & Watch
Well, I guess I might get to meet Ice Climbers tomorrow when we Skype (for now, I’m going to call him Ice Climbers) if he’s already at home! But any of those names are good names.
I can’t even believe its Christmas Eve! Christmas is tomorrow! HOW?! Too weird. Christmas here is way different. Basically, on Christmas Eve at midnight, the families have a big dinner and stay up until who knows when. Then, on Christmas day, nothing happens. Today is the big day. Tomorrow is nothing. We don’t get to eat dinner at midnight though, but we’re going to eat a little earlier with a family from the ward who lives in the same building as us. Just gotta drop down a few floors and we’re at their house! Tomorrow will be the big mission Christmas party in the institute building. Last year it was really fun. Excited about this year too. And then in the night I get to call you guys!! I can’t believe it! Elder Marker came in to the office the other day, and we started talking about how we can’t even believe that this is going to be our third out of four calls home. We’ve already been through three out of four General Conferences. We’re basically already on our way home!! How does time go so fast?? Don’t wanna get too myself too trunky, but, seriously, the months left before I’m home have dropped down into the single digits. This is ridiculous.
As for Christmas, it’s gonna be interesting I guess. The one thing I really like about Christmas here is that Christ still plays a big part of it. This is a place where Jesus Christ is still a huge part of their lives and such an important part of their culture. Of course, it’s also a place where an endless number of holy saints, holy virgins, and holy crosses are a huge part of their culture, but… at least they got the Jesus Christ part right. Although my last Christmas was less-than-ideal (flooded room, call home almost not working because our phone broke…), I’m always going to remember it for a couple of things. That day it was raining a lot. Our room wasn’t the only room that flooded. Basically half the town of Pacasmayo was dealing with flooding because these homes are just not built for rain! Elder Despain and I headed to church early that morning. We got to the chapel, but then decided we should go see an inactive member we’ve been visiting and invite him to come to church with us. So, before the meeting started, we left, and ran through Pacasmayo in the rain to get to this man’s house. He invited us in, and he was dealing with a major broken-roof flooding problem of his own. But, he decided he would get ready and come to church with us after all. The three of us went back to church together. He told us that it was his first time coming to church in seven years. Christmas day. That was a special Christmas moment. Later that day, Elder Despain and I went out to visit some families. I specifically remember visiting one family. We went to the poorest part of Pacasmayo, through a whole lot of mud and wet sand, to visit this family on Christmas. This family lived in what they call a “choza”. Or, basically, a house made of blue tarps and sticks. I’ve built more elegant forts in our playroom! The play structure in our backyard is a million times a better house than where this family was living. The very definition of extreme poverty. Their house was soaked too, obviously. We went in and visited with them. I had to duck because the “ceilings” were really low. They had us sit down, and then they offered us something to eat, and something to drink. And something about that just really got to me. This family, who almost literally has nothing, is freely offering us food and drink out of the kindness of their hearts. That is the true spirit of Christmas. That is the spirit of Christ. I was still so new in the mission I barely understood anything they were talking about. But I will always remember visiting that impoverished family on Christmas last year. I know tomorrow will be a little different, since we’re going to be having a Christmas party the whole day instead. We didn’t do that last year because Christmas was on Sunday. This year will be different. Party, call home, sleep. But I’ll never forget how I spent Christmas 2011 in Pacasmayo with Elder Despain!
Anyways, I gotta get going I suppose. One interesting thing I did this week while I was cooped up here in the office was that I got to watch a whole ton of different church videos in the corner of my computer screen while I was working on other stuff. One of the more fun ones I got to watch was this TV series that I don’t know if you guys already knew about or not called “The District.” A reality TV show about missionaries! Ha. I don’t know if that’s technically approved viewing material, but considering about 90% of the footage used in the show is also used in missionary training videos that we are allowed to (and supposed to) watch, I figured it was just like an extended edition of the missionary training. Haha. It was fun, and it gives a good glimpse into the life of a missionary. Obviously, a mission in San Diego is very, very different than a mission in Peru, but still, it’s the same idea. It also shows that we’re not perfect. We make mistakes a lot. But that’s okay. God doesn’t expect perfection from His children. He just wants our best effort. If you wanna watch, it was something that I enjoyed. There are a bunch of episodes. Kept me from going too insane working on payments and other things all week:
Anyway, I’ll talk to you tomorrow!! But for now, I’ll leave you with some last journal entries:
Tomorrow the world is going to end. But I don’t know at what time. So, either this is my final journal entry, or the next one is. We’ll see… Why am I even writing in here then???
9:45 PM… I’m still alive…
Well, I suppose the world isn’t ending today. Which is dumb because that means I still have to do monthly payments! Noooooooooo!!!! Aww man…
It’s the day after the end of the world… Not much seems to have changed.
Christmas Eve Eve. Joseph Smith’s birthday. The day after the day after the end of the world.
Xmas Eve tomorrow! XMAS!!!
Okay, bye! Merry Christmas to all! Drink loads of Cranberry Splash!
PS: Free Christmas gifts! Free Bibles and Book of Mormons for everyone!! Wooo!!