Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Goodness, first I lived three months without running water, and now I'm living without electricity. What next? Living in a tent?!"


My little weather thing on my computer is telling me that Eugene's starting to cool down. Rain. Clouds. Nice. I wish that would happen here! For some reason I still have it in my mind that it should be getting colder here at this time of year, until I remember that sadly it's only gonna get hotter. A hot Christmas? That's not even realistic. That's not a realistic Christmas! It's a fake Christmas!!! Seriously, not looking forward to Summer. Ha! That's a first. Speaking of Christmas, for some reason we've already started listening to Christmas music here which is complete and total apostasy and blasphemy in its purest form! You can't listen to Christmas music this early!!! Jeez, I love Christmas as much as the next person, if not more, but it’s just not that special of a thing when you start it so early. You can't start Christmas before Halloween! You have to at least let the other major holidays pass by first! There is a difference between "Halloween season" and "Thanksgiving season" and "Christmas season." I think two e-mails ago I described myself as "the king of waiting and never opening presents early." Listening to Christmas music in October is the equivalent of opening presents early. It spoils the surprise. And I guess it’s not really a "surprise" because I know exactly how the Christmas music is going to be, but it still spoils the Christmas season for me. However, I guess it doesn't really matter, because the whole Christmas season as I know it doesn't even exist here. Last Christmas didn't feel like Christmas. This one won't either. I want a nice cold Christmas by the fire with cinnamon rolls and pizza and getting Pokémon Yellow Version and my first Gameboy and forgetting to save my master ball for Mewtwo. Why am I talking so much about Christmas?? I miss Christmas!! United States version. P.S. Christmas music can't start until after Thanksgiving. Yes, I am weird about this. My future wife is gonna have to deal.

Anyways... well, this was probably one of the boringest weeks ever. Monthly payments! I don't know how these happen so often. How do the months go by so fast?? Well, because of monthly payments I was basically in the office all week. Here's what the first day of monthly payments was like:


Well, monthly payments officially started today. Today was one of the busiest days in the office that I can remember. I felt like my head was going to explode at multiple points of the day. With Sister Risso, President Risso, zone leaders, and some guy who works for the church all asking me to do something for them at the same time, on top of having to do regular monthly payment stuff. I felt like I was going to die! Sort of stressful. Tomorrow shouldn't be so bad. But it will be boring.

That day I didn't leave the office. The next day, I didn't leave the office. The next day... I also didn't leave the office. I was going to finish everything on Friday, and I was so close to finishing up, and then both of the websites I had to use went under maintenance at the exact same time (one of the sites is run by the church, the other by JPMorgan. They have nothing to do with each other!) and stopped me from being able to finish. Finished it all on Saturday. Because I was in the office so long this week, this was probably the first time since I've been here that I really started feeling like I wasn't a missionary anymore. But, now that it’s over, we're gonna go out and teach and preach and baptize the heck out of everyone! Starting with these two kids named Dennis and Gustavo. Last Sunday these kids came to church with some friends, and this Sunday they came back. We talked to them a bit at church. Had a makeshift Sunday School lesson with them and their friends, found out that they want to be baptized. Whoa! They're 13 and 14 years old. So, after church later that day, we went to go visit them at their friend's house. One of them told us that he already told his mom that he wanted to get baptized, and she said it was okay. Haha, wow! This is before our first lesson! So, we had a pretty cool lesson. Set a date (November 17th), and got them excited about their decision. Rad! I guess that's how God decided to bless us after a whole week of being stuck in the office. It is actually kind of weird that even though we're not full-time proselyting in this area, and this is by far the most disorganized ward I've been in, somehow I feel like this is my most successful area. Pretty neat. And there's a bunch of other potentials too. Like that kid Peter I told you about a long time ago. I finally got to talk to him again yesterday. He still wants to get baptized and he's way past ready to do it. He'll for sure get baptized soon! And there's this other kid too who's been coming to church forever and even goes to seminary and everything. We'll see what we can do. Things are looking up in Chiclayo! Since we barely got to go out and work this week, we didn't get to go visit the Buddhist lady again. I'm curious how our next visit is going to go.

Well, this week we've also had some electricity issues in our room. I think there were four nights this week where we didn't have electricity. The first night we thought it was a regular power outage, for like two seconds until we looked around and realized that every other building in Chiclayo still had electricity! So we assumed something was up in our building... until we realized that only our floor was without power! Our room was the only room within a million miles that didn't have electricity!! When we woke up the next morning, it was back. But it went out again multiples times throughout the week and will probably continue to do so until someone comes to fix it. Everything in our fridge suffered a painfully warm death. Goodness, first I lived three months without running water, and now I'm living without electricity. What next? Living in a tent?! Not having power made it a little difficult to write in my journal (or do anything really) at night. At first I used my camera screen as a light, until my camera died, with no way to charge it because there's no power! My flashlight died. My shaver died. Everything was just dead. This morning we had electricity. Hopefully tonight we still will.

Oh yeah, one funny thing was that one day while I was busy working on payments, Elder Perea went out with Elder Cabrera to go do some teaching 'n stuff. They went to one of our investigators houses. The dad of our bishop. He's an old man who likes to argue, but not really in a rude way, but because he's really trying to understand the gospel. And based on what he currently knows a lot of stuff we say just doesn't sound quite right to him. He's cool though. I enjoy our visits. However, Elder Cabrera told me that when they went, he refused to visit with them. He wouldn't come out "until the gringo comes back" because "he has the answers!" Hahaha. So, he refused to visit with them because I wasn't there, and apparently I have all the answers. I gotta admit, that made me smile. Funny guy.

On Saturday we got to do some good ol' service for the first time in a while. We got to help the Yataco family move to their new home! It's like two blocks away from their old home. Thank goodness! Because we didn't want to loose our awesome pensionista! The thing is, they moved to the fourth flour of this apartment building, and we had to bring all of their worldly possessions up a very narrow stairwell. The worst part being when we had to somehow bring the giant refrigerator up there. That took us like 20 minutes. We spent the whole morning helping them. I was glad we got to do it. It felt good to help a family who always does so much for us and who's always willing to help whenever we ask for anything. They treat us like part of their family. Hermana Yataco even calls us her "hijos" (children). They're basically the best.

Hmm what else... Well, church is a lot better these days now that the wards are combined. The chapel is full! Good sight. This week they actually had to open the back part (I dunno what you call that. Basically what happens at our church when there are too many people so they open up the back and start filling the gym.) because there weren't enough seats! Pretty cool. My favorite part was a talk this one lady was giving. You could just tell that she was annoyed with all the noise the little kids were making 'n stuff. And then like halfway through her talk this girl gets up and leaves, probably to go to the bathroom, and the lady who is speaking just cuts herself short and says angrily "Sisters, it's very rude to get up while somebody is speaking. The Spirit just goes right out the door!" Ha! The Spirit also goes out the door when you're being a jerk at the pulpit. That was one of those "I can't believe this is really happening" moments. Those moments are all the time.

Hmm... Well, I've also been reading that book you sent me. "The Continuous Atonement." Well, actually, I already finished it. I loved it!! It has helped me to understand and think about the Atonement in ways I had never thought about before. It was super, super good. There was one part in the first few pages of the book that stuck out to me and I've been thinking about it ever since. It went like this:

"Little children don't learn to walk in a day. Between the time a child is carried in a parent's arms and the great day when he is running on his own, there is a lot of hand holding, baby stepping, and falling. For a child learning to walk, falling down may not be desirable, but the lessons learned from it are.

"Similarly, before we came to the world, God knew we had progressed as far as we were able without an earthly experience. He could no longer carry us by keeping us in his presence. It was time for His children to learn how to walk on their own. That's why He lovingly placed us here--across the room, so to speak--and stepped just beyond our reach, all the while beckoning us to come. He knew the tumbles that awaited us. He knew the ups and downs ahead. That's why He planned from the very start to send our older brother to hold our hands, lift us up, and guide us across the room back to His outstretched arms. We left those arms crawling. We can return to them running."

I just really liked that for some reason. Basically the entire book is full of simple comparisons like that that are easier for us to picture and understand. It helped me understand more fully that the Atonement was not just Christ suffering for and paying for our sins. It wasn't just that moment in the garden of Gethsemane, or that moment as He suffered on the cross. The Atonement is not just receiving forgiveness for our mistakes, but it is receiving continuous help and support throughout our lives. It helps us grow, and improve, and to become more like our Heavenly Father. Little by little. I really liked the book a ton. I wanna read it again. You should read it if you get the chance. Also Brad Wilcox is basically one of my biggest heroes on this earth.

Anyway, that's pretty much been my week. Elder Driggs just stopped by the office and told me that his mom told him that she was talking with my mom on the internet. Haha. That's almost as cool as you guys meeting Elder Hatch's family in Utah. Fun times. This week Elder Samamé and I also started a two-person mosh pit in our room to some Christmas music that Elder Hatch was listening to. It didn't really work that well. But it was fun. Hahaha, I miss moshing. Elder Samamé and I always talk about music 'n stuff because he likes a lot of the same music that I do and he loves to play the guitar too. We usually end up making really funny literal word-for-word translations of English songs into Spanish (he knows English too). He made me ridic homesick one day when he all the sudden starting busting out "I Miss You" by blink. And then starting singing a really funny Spanish translation of it. Haha. Another thing we like to do is make literal translations of funny expressions in English that don't exist or make any sense in Spanish. Stuff like "what in the world?", and "are you serious?!", and "holy cow!", and "you rock!", and "what's your beef?!", and other stuff like that. He and I are always joking around all the time. Fun times.

Oh yeah, and lunch with members was great, as always. This time, I got sick! Woo!

Sounds like life back home is still pretty good. Bryn gave her senior presentation and is taking the ACT?! Weird. The ACT was the most boring thing in the world. 1st, 4th, and 7th period off? Yes! Now you're doing senior year right!! Seriously I loved senior year. It was so good. And what's all this stuff I keep hearing about you guys going to concerts? I don't even know who in the heck is Macklemore, but you're making me miss music a whole ton. Just kidding, I always missed music. Today we went to this music shop, but it was mostly just pure electric guitars and amps 'n stuff. Oh boy did I want to buy myself a nice Telecaster. They were also selling a Deryck Whibley (Sum 41 frontman) signature Squire Telecaster. You have no idea how much "Fat Lip" and "Underclass Hero" and "Ma Poubelle" went through my brain when I saw that. Good times. I sure miss music. I miss concerts. I miss Travis Barker's flying drum solo like ten feet directly above my head. I'm also jealous that you guys keep going to the temple. Not fair! Wanna go!! Sam always makes sure to make me feel good about missing out on things too. Look at what kinds of things he tells me!: 

"I had a bunch of Mtn Dew Voltage. It's sooooooo good. When was the last time you had Voltage? Ohh yeah, I also made chocolate mousse. It was pretty darn awesome. You miss out on everything good."

Thanks Sam.

Well I gotta get going. I miss you a lot a lot a lot! I hope Bryn's birthday was awesome! Looking forward to hear about it the next time I get mail. Wish I could have been there!!

See ya!

-Elder Victor

Here are two silly pictures that Victor sent this week.  You'll have to excuse his strange sense of humor...
"Signs Elder Navas put up in the office bathroom. To keep it clean :)"

"My new and improved version of the bathroom sign."

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."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"One day I will get back out there and teach all the time like a normal missionary. But for now, I will enjoy the benefits of an air conditioned office, seeing the President all the time, having fun with five other guys every day, etc... The office ain't so bad!"

Bwhoa! Today is transfers so let's see if I can crank a decent e-mail out before things start getting too crazy.

Mom, I got your package on Saturday. The 13th. I immediately opened it up and was excited to see that my BIC pens had arrived! And other stuff I was expecting like a journal, a book, and Mike's BOM comics. Yes so awesome! And then a note fell out of the package wishing me a happy birthday... uh, oops! I didn't know it was a birthday package! I strongly considered not looking through the package any further, but, I had already seen almost all of the contents anyway, and so for the first time in my entire life I spoiled my birthday for myself. I, the king of waiting and never opening presents early, opened my birthday package a month early. So, I destroyed my birthday, and I am sad about it, but the package was so awesome!! I loved the photos! All my little cousins are freaking gigantic now!!! What happened?!? Star Tours photos made me jealous. Rocket photos make me miss Rocket. Thanks for everything you sent! The little stickers and CTR rings I'll have to start giving to the kids. Also for the first time in my entire life I'm now wearing a CTR ring. Haha. I'm going to keep the snacks safe until my birthday. I need at least something to look forward to. Star Wars gummies are for sure going to be delicious, because they're Star Wars. And chewy gobstoppers!!! And of course, the most awesomest part of the entire package... An ocarina!!! Coolest thing ever!!! I have been having fun playing with that. It actually distracted me quite a bit from my office work the day I got it. So much fun!! I'll be a Zelda song pro in no time! The ocarina is a lot easier than the dumb quena. Thank you thank you thank you! I assume that was Dad's and/or Sam's idea because the songbooks came from Pike Place. Yes, I am happy. I loved the package! Then, like a half hour later, the Dear Elders came, and I read Mom's letter that warned me that I might not want to open the package because it had birthday stuff in it... oops. Anyway, that was fun. Speaking of birthdays, I hope Sam had an awesome one!! I thought it was stupid when I looked at the calendar, and since dates are backwards here I saw "11/10/2012" and was like "wait a second, that's my birthday, not Sam's!!" I dunno, in Peru, our birthdays got flipped. Elder Hatch's birthday was also this week. Birthday's every day!

Yesterday something cool happened that we weren't expecting. Well, we were, but we didn't know when it was gonna happen. Our ward (El Porvenir) got combined with the Chiclayo Central ward which is Elder Chero's and Elder Samamé's ward. While combining wards is really more a sign of regression than progression, it's going to be a huge blessing for the two wards because both wards have been suffering for a really long time. Chiclayo Central hasn't even had a bishop for years. Anyway, the two wards combined and now the one ward stuck with the name "Chiclayo Central", so now my ward is different and its likely that my area will now change names from "El Porvenir" to "Chiclayo Central 2." That's my prediction anyway. Who knows. The new bishop of the recently formed ward is a member from Porvenir who's a really awesome RM who's definitely a great choice. He stepped up to the pulpit to speak, and for like two minutes he just stood there trying to fight back the tears and work up the strength to open his mouth and start speaking. He's super excited about the new ward and he already has tons of plans for how to help and make everything work right. So, we're excited. For me, the best part was seeing the chapel full for the first time since I've been here. Usually it's so empty! Now church attendance won't be so embarrassing. Hehe. I think it'll be a great change. Just what this area needs.

This week I got to wait in a heck of a lot of long lines. I sure do not like going to the bank. But I gotta do it all the time. Because transfers were coming up I ended up not being able to do too much on Saturday. We had planned to go teach like crazies and ended up stuck in the office until like 7:00. That's just kinda how the office is. It’s kind of sad sometimes. One day I will get back out there and teach all the time like a normal missionary. But for now, I will enjoy the benefits of an air conditioned office, seeing the President all the time, having fun with five other guys every day, etc... The office ain't so bad! This week I've had the privilege of having to deal with the zone leaders of one zone discovering that for the past three transfers four missionaries who live together have been receiving too much money for rent every month, and they never said anything and kept the money, and now we have to get the money back somehow and now a bunch of elders are in debt to the mission. Not that fun! Being the financial secretary you sorta get to learn who are the trustworthy missionaries and who aren't based on their willingness to cooperate with financial problems. Also beggars always get the most mad at me when I don't give them money. They don't really care if the Peruvians don't give, but when the "filthy rich American boy" doesn't want to give up one sol to buy their candies they're selling they sometimes get pissed. That bothers me a lot. I literally don't have a dollar to my name. I don't have any money to call my own whatsoever. Whatever I had I spent it to be here, and now I have nothing, and the whole Peruvian world just assumes I'm filthy rich and stuck up and selfish.

This week I finished my third journal! Whoa! This one took a little longer to fill than my last two. Shorter entries every day I think. Sometimes I don't have much time to write at night. Or much energy. But, I still haven't missed a single day! Although I am secretly excited that when I get home I will no longer be obligated by myself to write in my journal every single day. Because I don't want to. Speaking of writing, I have been making a seriously good effort to write some letters. I have been trying really hard, and I just have to say, that no mail is leaving Peru from Elder Hemsley. I just don't have time!! I've been writing one letter for like the past three weeks, adding a little bit here and there whenever I have a free moment, but never finishing it. I am trying though. Really hard.

While I'm on the subject of my journal, here are some scattered journal entries that might give you an idea of how my week went. My thoughts are scattered right now because today is ridiculous because of the transfers. Luckily I don't have to think too much when I have journals to copy from instead!! Here we go:

10/10/12 (my last journal entry in my third journal.)

Well, looks like I'm finishing another journal. I sure am gonna appreciate these things once I'm done. Don't like writing. Do like reading.

Today was alright. Had a lot of things to do in the office, but I made it more enjoyable by watching an entire three hour documentary the church made about how the King James bible came to be. It was called "Fires of Faith." I watched it while I was working. It was super interesting. Helped me to realize better that the Great Apostasy wasn't just a gigantic period of time where God basically ignored the world, but He was actually there every step of the way, inspiring men and preparing the way for something incredible: The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness. So many people died so that I could have a bible today. And for that I am so thankful. I love the scriptures. I love the hope they bring me, and the feeling that I'm close to my Heavenly Father. I love this church. I love my Savior. I want to spend the rest of my life learning more about Him every day. I am so blessed.


Chicken and rice. That is what I ate for lunch today. That's what my life seems to revolve around these days. Chicken and rice. Yesterday I had to keep myself from laughing or making some kind of comment as one of our investigators was telling us about how varied the food is here. "There's some of everything!" Yes, there is some of everything... if the only two foods that exist in this world are chicken and rice. Yep! Peru has some of everything! All two foods that exist on this planet!! I got tired of it oh so long ago. I long for whatever I used to eat back home. I don't remember what I used to eat. My food memories were wiped out and replaced by chicken and rice a long time ago. All I know is that back home the food was more delicious than chicken and rice.

I am currently suffering an unreasonably painful headache right now. These are starting to become far too common, and I am significantly nervous about my overall health. This place is killing me. As I'm growing spiritually, I'm dying physically. It worries me.

Today is Sam's birthday. I miss that guy. This is the third year in a row that I've missed his birthday. Not fair! He's going to be so different the next time I see him. It’s going to be so weird.

Well, I'm off to ease the pain by getting some sleep. Tomorrow is a new day. And another plate of chicken and rice.


Well it’s like 11:30. Too late to write! It's Elder Hatch's birthday and an egg fight in currently going on between Elders Chero and Samamé and Chuiz. Hatch didn't get egged! Me neither! Woo! Ate dinner with Prez tonight. Rad. Bed.

Yeah, so... there's some stuff. Elder Hatch somehow survived his birthday without getting egged. Somehow I don't think I'll be as lucky. His birthday was fun though because Hermana Yataco made us delicious tacos for lunch. Mmmm!! Think I'm gonna ask for birthday tacos too, since Dad's burgers are out of the question. We got to eat dinner with President and Hermana Risso also, which is always fun and always more delicious than basically anything else that exists in this country. Good times. I gave Hatchito one of my Star Wars gummies for his birthday. I am an incredibly generous and wonderful person.

I dunno what else really happened this week. We had a good district meeting. I seriously don't even remember what we were talking about, but I just remember that I felt the Spirit really strong and was receiving all kinds of inspiration for our investigators. Sometimes in the office we don't get to feel the Spirit as often or as strong, and so whenever it happens its especially special. Can those two words legally be right next to each other in the same sentence? Especially special. Hmm. I dunno, that was really one of the highlights of the week. We also went on splits two days this week as a district. We spent Thursday in Chiclayo Central, and Friday in El Porvenir. Thursday I went with Elder Chero and Friday with Elder Samamé. Had some fun with them and taught some good lessons and met some good people.

Jacqueline is driving now?!! Are you insane?!!? Wow, Eugene better be careful. Hehe. Seriously that is super weird to me. Jacqueline's like two years old!! She can't be driving!! Looks like the Ducks are pretty much pwning everyone in futbol americano. I feel like whenever that happens I'm not in Eugene. Didn't they do really good when I was in Rexburg? Kewl though. Believe it or not going to a football game sounds pretty fun right now. That is a rare occurrence for me. I just miss anything United Statesy. Another missionary from our stake got called to Brazil?? I feel like I'm basically the only missionary in the entire stake who is not serving in Brazil. I remember in Single's Ward there were like six of us who had mission calls. I was going to Peru, and the other five were going to Brazil. Ridiculous! Thanks for the list of missionaries in our family by the way. That was really cool. Was Great Grandpa Paul the first missionary, or were there even some before him? Kind of weird to think that I'm a fourth-generation missionary. Especially when everyone here is a first-generation member. Crazy. I'm super blessed. Oh yeah, Jacqueline, did you really go to a Justin Bieber concert? Because... are you serious?? We're gonna have to talk. Speaking of concerts, I miss concerts. When I get home I gotta hit up the heaviest metal concert in town and get my mosh on. Break some bones, loose some blood. Y'know, all the signs of a good concert.

Alright, today is kind hectic, and I gotta go do a lot of things. Gotta go see Elder Choc off at the airport and five other missionaries. Thanks so much for the awesome accidental early birthday once again! I'm practicing my ocarina. Way fun! Seriously there are way too many instruments that I want to learn. Maybe someday I will be able to learn them all. I miss you a ton!! Stop growing up!!

Hugs 'n stuff.

Elder (means "super old person") Hemsley

Victor sent more pictures this week.  You can see them all by clicking on the slideshow at the top of this blog.  Here are just a few of them:

"My district."

"Playing my ocarina!"

"Some loco."

"Elder Hatch's birthday dinner! (The mission home is by far the nicest home I've seen in over a year.)"

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Honestly, I just miss the Pacific Northwest in general. And I don't mean the Pacific Northwest of South America, because I'm there. I miss the green and the not-hot, and even (you're not going to believe this...) the rain!! I've really grown to love the place I live a million times more than I ever used to love it since I've been gone. I think I used to live in heaven. Back when I was at home I always considered southern California my favorite place, and I still love that place a ton, but really, my home was heaven."

OREGON! Hi! :)

Oooh guess what happened this week?! General Conference!! I even got to see some of the sessions in English, so that was especially great. But whooooaaaaa ARE YOU KIDDING ME? DID YOU HEAR THOSE ANNOUNCEMENTS?! I guess my prediction for a temple in Eugene didn't come true. But, although a temple wasn't announced at my old home, a temple was announced in my current home. We were so excited to hear that another temple is going to be built here in Peru!! Arequipa is super far away from my mission, but it doesn't matter. Hearing that really made me feel like what we're here doing is really making a difference in this country. The gospel is spreading and the Peruvian people are being blessed more and more. Now Peru is anxiously awaiting their second and third temples. So awesome!! And, plus, Eugene Oregon was mentioned during the conference, so my prediction, though incorrect, was... well, actually it was just flat out wrong. A prophesy that misread may have been. It was really cool (and homesicky) to hear Eugene mentioned and Sister Wilberger and about how throughout that entire horrible experience their family was still able to stay strong and recognize their blessings. The other announcement blew our minds even more. Little kids can be missionaries now!!!! Er, 18 year old high school graduates. But still! And 19 year old girls?! Art thou insane?!! That means my little sister could be a missionary in a year if she wanted! That doesn't even make sense!! Way way awesome though. I feel like a lot more girls are going to serve missions now. I approve. Elder Hatch and I were basically freaking out. Coolest announcements ever. This news is huge!!! Way more special for us being missionaries right now. Plus, the prophet made me laugh, as always. Watching a couple sessions in English was really the best. It is just not the same in Spanish. It's not an issue of whether or not I can understand it, because I can understand both languages. But, think of it this way, if you had to choose between hearing the prophet's voice, or hearing somebody else just repeating what the prophet said, which would you chose?... not the one that's in Spanish! The emotion, humor, love, and even a bit of the spirit is lost in the dub. I can't enjoy it in Spanish. I can enjoy it a lot in English. It was super good. Especially that first session on Saturday. That was my favorite. I also saw the Sunday morning one in English with all the rest of the gringos in my Zone. English really makes a huge difference. Also, Sunday morning I saw something that I have never ever seen in Peru before. You might say it was a miracle. Elder Perea and I showed up really early to the conference, because our ward council that we were supposed to have before conference got cancelled because not enough people showed up because they were "too tired." Typical. Anyway, conference starts at 11:00 here. We showed up at like 9:15, and I witnessed a miracle... There was a fairly big group of people outside the chapel, waiting to get in for the conference. Or, in other words, for the first time in the history of my entire mission, people were early for something!!!! I couldn't believe it! People were early!! It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. That session the chapel was filled. Super full. One other really weird thing that I couldn't understand was that in Priesthood session there was this old lady in there watching it. Hahahaha. My fave talks this time around were probably Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk on Saturday morning, and Elder Holland's and President Monson's talks Sunday morning. There were a lot of good ones though. And I liked Sister Dibb's because of Eugene. Anyway, I'm super glad I finally got to see conference again. :)

Well, conference was definitely one of the highs of my mission recently. However, there was one other event this week which was huge for me... get ready for it... I GOT TO DRINK MOUNTAIN DEW FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OVER A YEAR THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, finally my year-long Mountain Dew fast ended. I have been searching high and low for Mountain Dew for the past year and I've never seen any hint of it. Last week the assistants went to Jaén with President Risso and his wife, and on Monday they got back. They came into the office and Elder Hatch told me that he had something for me. He opened his backpack, and pulled out two cans of Mountain Dew!!! TWO CANS!!! Best surprise ever!!!!! Most awesomest thing in the world. On Wednesday we had the monthly Zone Leader meeting, and Elder Martinez and Elder Meza, who are the zone leaders in Cajamarca, both at separate times noticed the Dew can on my desk and they both offered to send me more Mountain Dew from Cajamarca, because they have it there. Yes, they are awesome. Apparently they have all different types there, including Voltage. I NEED VOLTAGE!! Elder Meza also told me that they sell Pepsi Blue there... wait, what?! Pepsi Blue?!!?!?!! That drink has been extinct for years!!! He said he'd try to send me some of that too. PEPSI BLUE ARE YOU SERIOUS? Oh yeah, and then today we went grocery shopping and I had a little bit of extra cash to blow, and so I bought some nice gringo foods like sour cream and onion Pringles, sour gummy worms, and some Popcorn that had Star Wars Episode 1 ads on it (which may or may not have been the reason I bought it. Don't judge me. Seeing Star Wars Episode 1 being advertised takes me right back to first grade, which is when that movie came out). Yes, I am eating like a king tonight!

Also, last Monday was Elder Chero's birthday. I hate birthdays in Peru. They are the worst thing ever, and I don't want to have a birthday here at all. However, it was a pretty normal day. That night President and Sister Risso came to the office to take the six of us office guys out to dinner at Real Plaza for Elder Chero's birthday. Going to Real Plaza is always weird for me because it's so modern. It's basically just like something you'd find back home. It's like stepping into an alternate reality for just a minute. Think big outdoor mall like the places we usually go in California. That's what it's like. With a giant outdoor food court in the middle, which is where my delicious McDonald's is. But, for Chero's birthday, we went to KFC. I've never been the biggest fan of KFC, but one thing I've always loved from there are their biscuits and gravy... which don't exist here. Boo!! But it was still pretty okay even without the biscuits I guess. It was fun at least. After that we all went back to the room to wait for the inevitable eggs getting smashed on Chero's head to happen. It happened pretty quick. For Elder Chero's birthday I promised him I would not smash any eggs on his head, because I think it's a crappy thing to do. I kept that promise real good. But it got out of hand and turned into an egg and cake fight between everyone. I got egged and caked too. Gosh dangit I hate these birthdays!! I also gave him my BYU-I shirt because he wanted it for some reason. Haha. Looks like I'll never be able to enter the BYU-I gym again!... until I buy another one. But yeah, birthdays here are ridiculous. Not excited to have one.

Like I said before, on Wednesday was the Zone Leader meeting that we have every month. Those are always pretty cool. The best part is always President Risso's talk because he gives the coolest talks ever. But, partway through the meeting, I got one of those killer headaches I told you about, and felt miserable the rest of the day. After the meeting we all went out to eat, and I could barely eat anything. Later as I was working in the office, I started to feel super cold, which, considering how freaking hot it is here, is not normal. Elder Samamé is in charge of the sick people so he gave me some medicine and told me to rest. We had some important appointments that night and I was determined to go to them regardless of how awful I felt, but as I was getting ready to head out the door I decided that I did in fact feel too sick to leave, and Elder Samamé left with Elder Perea to go teach my lessons for me. That wasn't super fun. I truly am scared for my health out here. I'm just praying that permanent damage is not being done. I can handle feeling worse than average while I'm here, but if this continues when I get home, I will not be happy. Speaking of food, today I ate chicken and rice.

Oh yeah! And you know what else happened this week?! This week means I have officially been living in a foreign country for over a year! That is really super weird to me. It doesn't feel like it. I still find myself thinking at times how I can't believe any of this is real. This is so different than anything I've ever known. This is so distant from the reality I once knew. But somehow, it's still my same life, even if everything is completely different. Do not understand.

This week in the office I had to solve a lotta problems that a lotta missionaries are having with their JPMorgan cards. Looks like the last batch of cards I got were all duds and so like four missionaries were not able to withdraw any money this month. Had to order new cards. Kind of annoying. Taught a few lessons this week, had some good ones, invited people to conference, people told us they'd come, and then didn't come, y'know, the usual. Transfers are coming up which means a couple real hectic days. It also means saying goodbye to Elder Choc who's two years are up and he's flying back home to Guatemala next Monday! Noo!! He was a really great comp.

Sam, I'm not gonna pick a favorite NFL team. Why NFL anyway? When have I ever even seen an NFL game other than the Super Bowl which I only watched for the commercials?! You could have at least asked me to pick a college team. At least I sometimes watch college games. Sometimes. Not picking one!! Haha!

Anyway I'm jealous that you guys all got to go to the temple without me. I wanna go to the temple! It's not even fair! I never even knew how great of an experience it was to go to the temple until right before my mission, and then just as I find out it’s something I enjoy, I get sent off to Peru with no temple access for two years! No fair!! I really do miss it terribly. I started to really appreciate it more than ever in Lima. I had some really strong faith building experiences in my last two temple trips in Lima. And I'm also jealous that you went to Fuddruckers after!! I don't know what was wrong with the youth when I was in young mens and going to temple trips. When I first started, we went to Fuddruckers every time, and it was awesome, and then people started getting crazy ideas about wanting to eat at Sweet Tomatoes and Subway. Are you kidding me?!!!?! Both of those ideas were horrible! I'm glad it changed back to Fuddruckers. Though a tad late. And I'm also jealous that Dad and Sam got to go to Seattle afterwards! This is probably really weird, but Seattle makes me think of Angels & Airwaves, because their album LOVE came out the same day we drove to Seattle once, and I listened to that album the entire drive there and the entire time we were in Seattle, and now whenever I miss my music, and I think of Angels & Airwaves, I think of Seattle, and I want to go there. I don't even know why. It happens more frequently than it probably should. Honestly, I just miss the Pacific Northwest in general. And I don't mean the Pacific Northwest of South America, because I'm there. I miss the green and the not-hot, and even (you're not going to believe this...) the rain!! I've really grown to love the place I live a million times more than I ever used to love it since I've been gone. I think I used to live in heaven. Back when I was at home I always considered southern California my favorite place, and I still love that place a ton, but really, my home was heaven.

Bryn, I hope the SATs go/went well. Hehe, that must be boring. I remember when I took the ACT it was like the most boring day of my life. But somehow I survived and went on to lead a highly successful life filled with comfort and joy... Without studying.

Anyway. Before I go, one thing I really liked a ton about conference was Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk on Saturday morning. The whole time I was watching that I was just thinking to myself I want to show this talk to everybody I know!! He really did a great job of explaining what I'm out here doing and why I decided to do it. I really liked it a lot a lot. To anyone who's interested in learning about what I'm doing as a missionary, why I decided to do it, and what I believe, I would like to invite you to watch this video. One year ago, this man changed my life, simply by walking into the same room I was in, allowing me to experience one of the strongest impressions of the Spirit I've ever felt in my entire life as it confirmed to my heart that this man truly is an Apostle of Jesus Christ. That was an impression so powerful I could never deny it. I love Elder Nelson, and I really enjoyed what he had to say. Here is the video for anybody who is interested:

Okay, I love you all and I miss you a lot. Mom, I was gonna ask for more things you could send me, but I can't remember any of them. Oops! Maybe later.

Stay awesome please!

-Elder Hemsley

Victor also sent some more pictures.  Here are just a few (if you want to see the rest, just click on the slideshow at the top of this blog):

"Elder Chero's birthday dinner!"

"I've been waiting for this moment my whole life!!!"

"Little pieces of heaven."

Friday, October 5, 2012

An Invitation From Victor.

Victor wanted me to send an invitation to watch Conference this weekend. It might give you some insight into why he decided to spend 2 years of his life as a missionary in Peru. He sent these video links for those who might be interested.
--Victor's Mom

Come listen to living prophets

Monday, October 1, 2012

"There is one problem that about 99% of missionaries experience on their mission. And it's called "getting fat." However, I, Victor Paul Hemsley, have not gained one single pound (or kilo) since I've been out here. I haven't lost weight either. I am the exact same as I was before I got here. I never change."


Hey guys.

Well, this week was another busy week. Wasn't supposed to be, but lots of surprises came and punched us in the face with a brick (oh gosh... just imagine how bad that would hurt... haha). But, something amazing happened this week! A miracle perhaps. It’s that yesterday we taught six lessons! SIX!!! Actually, eight, because we also taught Gospel Principles at church, and then we also taught the class the third hour. Eight lessons in one day. I actually felt like a real live missionary yesterday!! Look, in the office, I've had entire weeks with less lessons than I had yesterday. So, yesterday was a good day. It did indeed make me happy. Teaching that third hour class was a little bit stupid though. A few days ago, we specifically asked our leaders if we were going to have to do anything for the third hour on Sunday, so that we would have time to prepare. We were told that we weren't going to have to do or teach anything. For sure no. Well, we show up to church yesterday only to be informed that, just kidding, actually we are teaching the class! ARE YOU SERIOUS? I really, really dislike how unorganized everything is here. The Eugene Third Ward and every other ward I've ever been to before becoming a missionary are perfection compared to everything I've experienced here. Seriously the mission has just gotten me super excited about being in a functioning ward when I get home. Never really appreciated before how smooth everything really went back home. Maybe this was God's way of trying to get me to appreciate church more. It's working really well.

This past week we've really been focusing on visiting less active or inactive members. The vast majority of our lessons (of which, the vast majority were all yesterday) were taught to less active members. We're also visiting the active members to gain their confidence and to get them more excited about and involved in not only missionary work, but in their callings and their responsibilities that they already have. Seems to be working little by little. Elder Perea and I feel like we really need to focus on strengthening this ward and the members. Almost all of the inactive members are inactive because of a problem they had with some other member of the church. The ward is not super close, and it’s something we need to fix before we can start thinking about baptizing more people into this congregation that's just going to end up offending them at some point and adding them to the giant statistic of inactive members. But we are seeing progress, which is a good thing. Members are starting to give us referrals 'n stuff which is a million times better than knocking doors and hoping someone will listen to us. So maybe we're not seeing a ton of investigators right now, but we really feel that what we're doing right now is necessary in order to help the work move forward.

I saw Maria yesterday at church and set up an appointment with her, which I'm stoked about because we haven't been able to visit her in a long time and visits with her are always the best because she was just so super prepared to accept the gospel in her life! She's super active in the church, and she goes to seminary every day, and she was telling us about how she's planning on inviting some friends to an activity we're going to have this Friday. She also told us that she went to that transmission for President Monson's birthday that was a few weeks ago. I didn't even know she went to that! She's awesome. Jessica is also really great. Also active. Visiting her is funny because it always seems like she isn't really that interested or paying that much attention but she really takes everything in and understands everything we teach her so fast. Have some good converts here.

I've also been busy being the Financial Secretary as always. Lots of payments, lots of missionaries asking for reimbursements. That's probably the most common thing. "ELDER HEMSLEY REIMBURSE ME DANGIT!!!" "Uh, are you loco?! You can't just spend 50 dollars of your zone fund on a cake and soda!!" Hehe. Stuff like that happens.

Lunch with members this weekend was fun. This time I noticed that there was a big ol' dead bug in my juice, after I had already drinken (drunken?... drunk?... drank.) most of it. Eww.
One highlight of the week was that at one point while we were in a taxi (here in Chiclayo there are actual taxis, not just mototaxis) the song "Crazy" by Simple Plan came on, and even though they aren't exactly my favorite band in the world, it was the first time in like a million months that I had heard that type of music, and it made me really happy... and I totally knew all the words too. Hahaha. I'm stupid. I guess one time I also heard All the Small Things in a taxi. That one made me just a teense homesick.

Hmm, well, what else... Did you know that headaches hurt a lot worse here? I don't get headaches that often, but whenever I do, they kill. They hurt so bad it's ridiculous. I'm convinced it has something to do with my failing health because of my diet consisting of pure rice and chicken. I think the mission is going to kill me. Here everyone and their dog has kidney problems. The most common problem to hear is that someone has kidney stones or some other problem with their kidneys. "Sorry, I couldn't come to church because of my darn kidneys." EAT SOMETHING OTHER THAN RICE AND CHICKEN. I've been taking those vitamins daily. Dunno if they're helping. They probably are. So far my kidneys haven't hurt. But living in this culture makes me fear for my life.

There is one problem that about 99% of missionaries experience on their mission. And it's called "getting fat." Seriously every missionary gets a lot fatter while they're out here and everyone is concerned about it. I haven't yet had a companion who wasn't upset about the weight he was gaining. However, I, Victor Paul Hemsley, have not gained one single pound (or kilo) since I've been out here. I haven't lost weight either. I am the exact same as I was before I got here. I never change. I suppose it is a gift. Speaking of "kilos," all the measurements here confuse the heck outta me. I don't know how hot it is when someone tells me that it's 30 degrees, because they're using Celsius. I don't know how far away something is when someone tells me it's 10 kilometers away. I don't know how tall someone is when they tell me they're 1.5 meters tall. I don't know how much something weighs when someone tells me the thing weighs 20 kilos. I don't know how fast we're going when we're driving 80 kilometers per hour. And I don't know how big a shoe is when someone tells me it's size 40. SIZE FORTY?!!?!?! Gosh dangit. Why is everything different. The thing is the metric system makes a heck of a lot more sense than feet, and miles, but I don't understand any of it.

Anyway, I don't think I've ever really told you about my pensionista here, which is dumb, because she's the best!! Hermana Janet Yataco. She's pretty much known as the best pensionista in the mission. Although, I still think it's hard to top Hermana Rosa. They're both awesome though. Anyway she and her husband also run this business selling LDS stuff like rings, scripture cases, backpacks, t-shirts, and lotsa other stuff. I should probably buy some stuff like scripture cases. I've gone over an entire year with naked scriptures because everyone told me in Lima not to buy any because when we got to our mission we'd find members who would be able to make us or sell us better ones. Well, that was a lie. But now it looks like I can finally buy some. Haha. My Bible already broke once, but I superglued it back together, while at the same time accidentally getting some superglue on my pants which is literally impossible to get off, and also accidentally getting a lot on my skin. But that was a few months ago and I think my skin is back to normal. But anyway Hermana Yataco cooks better than anyone I've met so far in the mission and she's basically the nicest person in the entire world. She makes us feel like part of the family, like Hermana Rosa did when I was in Olmos. Got lucky with my pensionistas. Her whole family is awesome too. Her husband and her three daughters. And also some members live with them who are from Olmos, ironically, and they know all the people I got to see get baptized and sometimes give me cool updates about how they're still active and excited about the gospel 'n stuff. So that's fun too. It's fun times at the Yataco's!

Oh yeah, one funny thing is that I brought my Etch-a-Sketch on my mission, and that's not exactly a well-known toy here, even though it is in Toy Story which is a movie that everyone in the entire world has seen like 79 times. But basically nobody understands what it is our how it works. My companion almost threw it away the other day because he thought it was broken because he didn't know how to draw with it. NOOOOoooooooo!!!!!!! But luckily, that didn't happen. Haha. Speaking of that thing, I haven't used it in a while and my dream of becoming a pro Etch-a-Sketch artist is not really going anywhere.

I'm also hoping one of these days to go buy myself a new quena. Remember, that flute thing I told you about that I bought when I was in Pacasmayo? Well, the one I bought was super cheap and it's really more of a decoration than an actual instrument, so I want to go out and buy one that's actually good. I can play some Zelda songs and some Yellowcard songs though. Haha. And hymns. I guess. Clearly I'm focused on hymns. What I'm really looking to buy here is an ocarina. I know that they sell them here, I just don't know where!! When I was in the MTC in Lima and I had my first interview with President Cavanaugh, I told him about how I love playing music and so he pulled out this case of instruments he bought and inside (and really the only thing I noticed) was a wooden ocarina that basically looked exactly like the Zelda ocarina. WANT WANT WANT!!!!!!!!!!!! So I'm hoping to be able to find one of those too. Haha.

Oh! Speaking of ocarinas... Word on the street is that my birthday is coming up next month. Am I allowed to ask for birthday presents? Haha. I'm excited because Dad told me he already found a really awesome Christmas present that we're both going to like. I MISS CHRISTMAS!

Sounds like school is happening. Sounds like Classic South is a lot better than IHS too. Yay! I know from experience that that is so very extremely true. Hope you're all having a goodish school year. I'm glad I'm not studying right now. Though at the same time I can't wait to get back to Rexburg. No, Bryn, I didn't burn any articles of clothing when I reached the one year mark. I need all the clothes I have!! But I'm planning on leaving most of my clothes behind when I come home. I don't need ten white button-up shirts. Especially not the eight short sleeve ones. I've never really liked how those look. When I get home, no more short sleeves! But here, always short sleeves. The days when I have to wear my long sleeve shirts I die because it's so freaking hot. Wearing my suit is torture.

Anyway, I'll let you know when the package gets here. The cool thing about being in the office is that you're literally sending mail directly to me now. I spend at least half of every day at Maria Izaga 390, third floor. I even basically live on Maria Izaga, except the street name changes before it gets to our room. But its the same street. Kinda neato. I have enjoyed getting your letters a lot faster than I used to get them. Will be annoying to adjust once I get transferred to another area. But don't have to worry about that for a while. I'm way stoked because today for the first time since I left the MTC I heard from Elder Hickey! He's in Bolivia, and Elder Matagi, who was his companion in the MTC, is his companion again right now! So awesome. Miss those guys. I miss all the guys from the MTC. The MTC was way fun... in Provo.

It's October now and I realized while looking at that calendar you gave me that October is absolutely dominated by birthdays in our family. 12 birthdays in October?! Ridiculous. Anyway, Hunter's turning old in a few days, so Happy Birthday Hunter!!! I miss you a heck of a ton. Sam's birthday next week. Yikes, I'm missing out. When I get home can you bake me a chocolate mousse cake for every birthday that I've missed? Thanks. 

Alright, I gotta go do stuff. I'll talk to you next week! Miss you all!!


Here's the one picture that Victor sent this week (apparently he hasn't changed much -- he's still weird!):