Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Yesterday I made more of an effort to pay attention to and recognize the Spirit, and I had some neat experiences. Nothing big, but little things and impressions that I was thankful for."

Yo wuddup?!!?

Oh, y'know, just sittin´here in the office, writing an e-mail. You?

Oh. Kewl. Let's hang out soon. Lol okay brb.

Well... This week has been eventful. Still fairly stressful. The whole month of December looks like its going to be sort of annoying office-wise, but shouldn't be too bad I hope. I just don't know how end of month (and end of year!) payments are going to affect my Christmas. That would be a bummer. This week was full of ups and downs. But, real high ups, and really, really low downs. Uhh, I guess I'll start with the lows and get them out of the way. This is real awful...

This week a sister from our ward, Hermana Huansi passed away. I met her within my first days here and she's always been one of the nicest members to us missionaries. One of the only members who actually wanted us to come over for lunch, instead of just having us over by obligation basically. She was always inviting us over and loved visiting with us and helping us and teaching with us and she basically treated us like a part of her family. She has four sons. Three of whom have served missions. The last one just returned from his mission less than a month ago. She died really, really suddenly on Tuesday. The other elders we live with even saw and talked to her on Tuesday morning, totally normal, walking down the street. Then that afternoon Elder Samamé got a call from Hermana Yataco. I just remember Elder Samamé saying "are you serious?! We just saw her this morning!!" and at that point a million ideas flew through my mind of what might have been going on. What sister missionaries had I seen in the morning that might have gotten in an accident?? Then Elder Samamé put the phone down and told us "Hermana Huansi is dead." None of us could believe it. I had just seen and spoken with her at church on Sunday. We went right over to go see the family. By that point they were already in the chapel getting the open-casket ready. I walked inside and I saw three of her sons there and it just killed me to see them so sad. Especially the one who just got back from his mission, José Martin. It was the worst. The other brother and their dad didn't even know what had happened yet. We went with them back to their home where they were waiting for their brother and father to get there. The four of us missionaries waited in the living room, and the brothers went into the room next door, which was separated from the living room by just a couple of plywood boards. We just waited. If you want to have an awfully sad experience, I recommend witnessing someone be told by his brothers that his mom just died. In the other room we didn't see anything, but we heard it all. It was the saddest thing in the world. So much crying. I felt so bad, and I was just overcome by this huge desire to help this family in any way that I possibly could. Although there wasn't much we could do. If just us being there helped them feel better in some way, then I guess I was doing exactly what I should have been doing. There we waited a really long time. Eventually Elder Cabrera and I went into the other room for a minute to do what we could to comfort them. Reassuring them that we'd be there to help with anything we can. Then we went back out to the other room and waited some more for their dad to arrive. Their dad works in Cajamarca which is hours away from Chiclayo. I guess they told him that he needed to come home immediately but they didn't tell him what had happened. When he showed up, it was a replay of what had happened earlier. A father being told by his sons that his wife was dead. It was awful. Never in a million years would I have ever expected to be present for something like this in my mission, or ever. There was so much crying. What killed me most was that José Martin was beating himself up about it. I think he was the only one at home when his mom died and he somehow felt responsible for it. That was the saddest thing. My heart aches so much for that family. The Goicochea family. I still can't even believe what happened. Hermana Huansi always treated us like angels, and saw us as angels too. She was one of the most amazing people I have met on my mission. I must have had lunch like six times at her house (and her food was actually good and didn't make me sick!) and visited her and talked with her many other times. That night was really hard. All I wanted to do was help. But I didn't know what to do. There's not much you can do in a situation like that. But it just sort of makes you feel helpless. Aren't the missionaries supposed to save the day? Aren't the missionaries real-life super heroes? I wanted to do so much more, but all I could do was be there. There was nothing we could do about it and no way to fix it. All we could do was be there for the family. So sad...

Yesterday at church the family was all there. They looked calm. José Martin even smiled and laughed and that made me super happy. He's the new elder's quorum president and he taught his normal priesthood lesson like any other Sunday, and was organizing activities for the quorum and everything. What a champ. I think having the gospel in your life makes a horrible experience like this about a thousand times more bearable. It doesn't take away the pain or the sadness by any means, but it gives you hope and comfort in an otherwise hopeless situation. I don't know what I would do without this gospel. I think I would have given up a long time ago if it weren't for the faith and the testimony I have in my Heavenly Father's plan and my Savior Jesus Christ. The gospel is what gives me the strength to move on when it feels like all hope is lost. This gospel is the single most important thing to me that I have in this life. Some people seem to get along fine without Christ in their lives. But I wouldn't be able to. I owe everything I have to this gospel. It is the greatest gift that my Heavenly Father, and my parents, have ever, and could ever give me. I am forever thankful to have been blessed with what I have. I know the gospel strengthened this family in this horrible situation. They're still terribly sad, and their lives will never be the same, but they have hope, and they have a knowledge that they will see their mother again, and they will be able to be with her forever. Tonight we are going to have a family home evening with them. Hermana Huansi's non-member relatives are visiting and the father asked us to come over and share a message with them. I'm sure it will be sad, but that overwhelming desire I felt to help this family hasn't gone away, and I'm very thankful for this opportunity to be able to be with them and do what little I can to help them through this.

Anyway... let's get on to the more positive experiences of the week...

For one, on Wednesday we had a multi-zone conference with Elder Camargo, a new area seventy from Columbia. And it was so good!! President and Hermana Risso spoke, and as always their talks were awesome. And then Elder Camargo's wife Claudia spoke, and it was also awesome, and then at last Elder Camargo spoke to us. He was really funny! He was making a lot of jokes and interacting with the missionaries and making fun of them and stuff (lovingly... haha). And apparently he shared a different message at every multi-zone conference. But at ours one of the things that really stuck out to me was when he had us open to a scripture that I've read or heard about a million times, but he helped me to understand it in a way I had never thought about too much before. The scripture was Moroni 8:25, which says: "And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins." I had never really put too much thought into that verse before. I had heard it a million times, and I was familiar with it, but I never paid much attention to what it was really saying about how "the first fruits of repentance in baptism." Elder Camargo told us that it means that when we truly repent, we will want to be baptized. And that means that if we have investigators who say they have repented, but they still don't want to be baptized, then that means that they haven't fully, or truly repented. Interesting. But it makes sense. If baptism is for the "remission of sins," why wouldn't someone want that if they're really serious about repenting and being forgiven and cleansed of sin? Had never thought about it like that before. My other favorite part was another scripture that he had us read. Another well-known one, about the doctrine of Christ. In 3 Nephi 27, verses 21 and 22, which are the words of the Savior speaking to His disciples: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do; Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day." Elder Camargo highlighted an interesting point in these two verses. Christ is telling His disciples "this is my gospel," and that essentially it is to emulate Christ and live as He lived and to do what He would do. But he pointed out something that I really liked. He asked us to count how many times Christ uses the word "do". How often the verb "to do" is used in these two versus. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do; Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day." The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of action. We can't sit around and say we believe in God and in Christ but do nothing about it. We have to act. We have to do. Because "faith, if it hath not works, is dead" (James 2:17). We have to make a constant effort to emulate the Savior. We won't be perfect, but that's why we have a Savior in the first place. "For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23). Elder Camargo shared a lot of other things with us, but those were the main points that stuck out to me. It was a fun conference.

I had been praying to have some more spiritual experiences, or at least to be able to recognize the Spirit more in my life, because I feel like I haven't been having those kinds of experiences as frequently as I used to being cooped up here in the office so much. So, yesterday I made more of an effort to pay attention to and recognize the Spirit, and I had some neat experiences. Nothing big, but little things and impressions that I was thankful for. First, in the morning we went to visit this less-active family to try to get them to come to church with us. Two parents and a 19 or 20 year old son. I wasn't too happy with the approach my companion was taking to get them to come to church. It was kind of forceful and sorta like "we're right, you're wrong, you're disobeying God by not coming with us." Uh, not my style. So I stepped in and just started testifying of the blessings they can receive by coming to church, and partaking of the sacrament, and renewing their baptismal covenants, and as I was speaking I felt the Spirit in a way that I haven't felt much this past week. It actually made me smile as I was speaking and feeling that way. In the end, only the son came with us, but it was rad because he's always way awesome and could totally be a missionary soon.

Then, in sacrament meeting, one of the speakers was a recent convert who was baptized about three months ago by Elder Samamé. Her name is Heysa (once again I have no idea how to actually spell her name) and she's 17 or 18. She is really, really, really awesome!! You would never know that she's only been a member of the church for three months! She's a councilor in the primary presidency. This was her first talk in sacrament meeting, and it was soo good!! One of the best talks I've heard on my mission probably! She used quotes from President Packer, and from Joseph Smith, and she used scriptures from Doctrine and Covenants, and the Book of Mormon, and she mentioned a lot of things beyond just the basic stuff that recent converts know, like about eternal families and seeking an eternal companion. One thing that she said really hit me hard. She was talking about God and she said "He trusts us completely." Something about that really got to me and as she said it I felt the Spirit confirm to me that was she was saying was the truth. That was a cool experience for me, and it was the main thing I took away from church yesterday. Heysa finished with an awesome testimony. Her talk basically blew me away! This girl needs to be a missionary!!

Later that day, we were walking down the sidewalk, on our way to see if we could visit a member, and then randomly this one guy comes up to us and says "Elders, can you come with me and give me a blessing?" He had taken a pretty nasty fall down a stairwell and his side was pretty beat up. We said sure and followed him to a house to give him the blessing. As we were walking he told us that he is a returned missionary who served in Trujillo, but that he hasn't been very active lately. I've met a stupidly high amount of inactive RMs here!! But anyway, we went inside and found a room where I was able to give him the blessing in there with his non-member girlfriend and some Catholic preacher also in the room. We then got to talk with them and some other family members for a bit. It was a good experience, and I was glad to have been able to do that.

Some other totally random things that happened this week include me eating Trix cereal for the first time in over a year!! Soo good! Except, I don't like the milk here, so I just ate the cereal plain. But the Trix here is still in the little fruit shapes instead of the dumb colored circles that it changed to in the United States. Why did that even change?! And why did it only change in the United States?! What gives?!!?!?! I WANT MY TRIX TO HAVE COOL SHAPES DANGIT. So yeah, I ate fruit-shaped Trix. Be jealous. Another thing that made me happy this week was one night while we were walking to an appointment we walked past a tree that had Christmas lights on it. That is a really rare sight here, and it really grabbed my attention. Made me actually feel for a second like it was actually Christmas time. Literally, for a second. And another thing I thought was funny was the other day when the church put a new website online. Elder Hatch read me the URL: "" and it made me LOL. I thought it was a joke or an anti-mormon website or something, but it's legit. It’s actually pretty cool too.

Hmm, well, that was my week in a nutshell. Another week of being in the office a ton! Oh yeah, those missing 2000 dollars did eventually show up. It just took a lot longer than normal to get here. Annoying. I will be sort of refreshed to leave the office whenever that happens (most likely in January). But at the same time I'll miss it. However, I don't expect to get sent to anywhere cool after this. I'm almost 100% sure that I'm going to stay in Chiclayo, so that I can stay close by to help the new financial secretary. Elder Karl stayed close for that same reason. And I used his help literally until past the very last second (even after he was already supposed to be home (he got stuck in Chiclayo an extra day) I was still asking him for help. Haha)! But hopefully one or two transfers in the future I can go somewhere other than Chiclayo.

P.S.: Piter was my second confirmation, not the first. Maria was the first person I ever confirmed as a member of the church.

I have no idea what kinds of movies are coming out these days. President Lincoln movie?? Sounds cool to me. Would have liked to have gone. And Bryn's applying for schools?!?!!? What the heck?!?! How is that even possible??? Too weird.

Dad, I thought it was cool what you told me about Handel's Messiah and the experience he had when he finished writing the Hallelujah Chorus. Cool stuff. I like those kinds of stories. God didn't forget about us during the "dark ages" or the Great Apostasy. He was always there and always will be.

Anyway, I've taken way too long writing you guys this week. Haha. I gotta go right now! Thanks for keeping me updated on real life. I hope you enjoy my fake-life updates. Because seriously I still can't believe this is real life. It's fake.


-Elder Hems 

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