Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"So, basically, the other day I went out and planted rice. Got my feet real dirty walking around in those pools of muddy water, planting some rice like a real live Peruvian!"

One more week down. Time is flying!

I hope all is well back home. This week was officially my first full week in Picsi! Didn't have to set foot in the office at all this week! So, I got to teach a lot of lessons! By far my most productive week proselyting wise since at least July, if not longer, because this week we saw more people and taught more lessons than I even used to do in Olmos. So, it was pretty great if I do say so myself. We're visiting a lot of people. We're meeting a lot of really great people here who are really looking to change their lives and come unto Christ. I'll try to share some of the highlights of the week.

First, I now have a new name. Remember how my first pensionista never learned my last name, and so she called me Elder Victor? Well, same deal here. My new pensionista, Gotty, can't ever remember my name (although she can pronounce it, she just can't remember it), and so, out of nowhere she's just started calling me "Carlitos" instead. Hahaha. The most random thing ever! Hermana Gotty is funny. She just always calls me "Carlitos," and now the name is sticking and everyone in her family now calls me Carlitos. Carlitos? I don't know why, but it makes me laugh. It's just weird though because we used to call Elder Karl "Carlitos" too, and now it’s weird that the name has been given to me. But, it's funny.

Now, remember that guy Victor I was talking about? Well, he's super awesome. He's one of the smartest people I've ever taught. We gave him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet one day, came back a couple days later, and he basically taught us the entire lesson. He makes all these connections between everything and he just understands and learns so fast! When he came to church last week we let him take a Liahona magazine back to his home. One day we show up and he starts teaching us about covenants and exactly what they are and how a covenant is basically a signed contract between you and God, where you promise to do something, and God promises you something in return. EXACTLY!! He actually keeps every single commitment he makes, which is something that close to 0% of investigators here do. He came back to church again this week. We didn't even have to invite him, he told us he was going to come. He's really looking to make big changes in his life. He's never been a member of any church, and doesn't even own a bible or anything. He said other preachers have knocked on his door and tried to teach him, but he's never liked what they had to say, or how they taught. He told us there was something different about us, and that he really enjoys and appreciates our visits. This guy is awesome. His wife died a few months ago, and I think that might have something to do with why he's giving us a chance instead of booting us like all the past preachers who have come to see him. It's been fun to visit Victor.

Also, that other family I told you about last week, the Chimpèn Ramos family. Edgar and Jacqueline, and their kids Nayeli and John. This family has been progressing a lot! And fast! Last week I told you that the whole family accepted the invitation to be baptized. Still don't have a baptismal date, because the parents need to get married first. But we're visiting them a lot and they're so great! They also seem to understand everything really quick. They still have desires to get baptized. Just waiting for an affordable opportunity to come around to get married first. However, the other day we were teaching them again about the Plan of Salvation, and when we got to the end talking about the Celestial Kingdom and the requirements to live there, we told them that even though Edgar and Jacqueline can't get baptized yet until they get married, that there are other members of their family who are ready to be baptized, and we asked them if they would be willing to help and support Nayeli (John wasn't there at the time...) to be the first member of their family to take this step and be baptized. I wasn't really sure what the answer was going to be, but they said yes! And Nayeli is excited about it. She's 11 years old and she's really awesome and funny. This family is so great! Edgar is working planting rice right now for his family. This happens once a year, and it just happens to be right now that he's doing it. Basically it involves walking around in these pools of water and mud and sticking the rice plants in the mud to so that they can grow, and so that they'll be able to have rice to eat for the next year. Well, Elder Arèvalo and I asked Edgar when we could help him plant some rice, and explained to him that apart from just teaching, we also love giving service to people and families. So, basically, the other day I went out and planted rice. Got my feet real dirty walking around in those pools of muddy water, planting some rice like a real live Peruvian! Elder Arèvalo took some photos, but I can't send them because they're on his camera and also these computers we're using don't have memory card slots. But if you just search for "planting rice" on Google images, you'll get to see what I did. Definitely a new experience for me. And a cool one! After that, the family gave us lunch. Some real yummy fish. Awesome family!

Another fun first-time for me this week was that on Saturday, we taught a free piano class to whoever was interested. And by "we", I mean "Elder Arèvalo," because I didn't do anything because I have no idea how to teach piano. It's something that Elder Arèvalo had been doing before I got to Picsi, but because of all the craziness of going back and forth between Picsi and Chiclayo, we haven't done it again until now. He just taught the very basics. The notes of the pentagram, and where they are on the keyboard. But it was cool! And Victor came! Victor has no musical background or musical experience whatsoever, but he showed up and he was totally taking notes and asking great questions and everything. Victor is the best! (I like how that sounds... "Victor is the best!") So that was kinda neat. I don't know if I'm going to be able to keep the piano classes going once my companion leaves. Really have no idea what to do when it comes to teaching piano. I've tried before at home. I've tried to teach people some things on the piano, and I can't do it. Probably because I don't even know what I'm doing either. Haha. I can't read music, I don't know what notes are what, I just play. Seems to work.

At one point this week we were walking down the street and we saw this lady drawing water out of the local well. The lady at the well. We asked her a question, because we were looking for somebody, and then we started talking to her a little bit. She told us her name is America. Seriously?! What an awesome name!! Haha. People here have super weird names, seriously. It's like their parents just think of whatever their favorite thing is, and call their child that. And tons of people have religious names. We've even met women and girls named Jesus, and Josè. Its like they really wanted a son, but had a daughter, but just used the name they were gonna use for the son they wanted anyway. Anyway, we were talking to America, and asked her if she believed in God (like 99.99% of people here believe in God...) and basically she was like "Duh, who doesn't believe in God? God is the only one to believe in. Some people believe in saints, but saints are false, and you should only believe in God." Haha. Yeah! America rules!!!

I think I told you about Jerson before, the little kid who's Harly's cousin. He's nine years old, and he's been coming to our lessons every time we visit his cousins Sandra and Carlos. He's super interested and he wants to get baptized really bad! But the other day he told us that his parents don't want him to be baptized. We haven't met them yet. But then he got this big grin on his face and said "but, can you baptize me in secret?!" Hahaha. We told him that that would be a good idea, but that he really needs permission from his parents first. Haha. Funny kid.

Sunday was neat. So many people came to church! Like 30! 30 people at church! Wooo! Haha, that sounds funny to me to be proud of that number. But in Picsi, that's a huge success! And the best part is, like 10 of them were investigators! I've never had so many investigators come to church before in my entire mission! So, that was cool. We're pretty excited about the work here in Picsi. Lots of good people here.

Oh yeah, and the other day Hermana Gotty told us that this 13 year old girl who lives down the street got pregnant... WHAT THE HECK?!??! The worst part is, that's not even that weird here. Seriously. This 13 year old girl's 14 year old boyfriend got her pregnant. Great. Seriously, if you thought pregnant teens were a common thing in the United States, you haven't seen anything until you come to Peru. I'd say its probably more normal to get pregnant as a teenager here than to not get pregnant. And lots of times to guys who are way, way older than them. 21 year old guys dating 14 year old girls. 27 year old guys dating 15 year old girls. Seriously. That's normal here. And it's gross.

Alright, I gotta finish up. We're in Chiclayo right now because for P-day our zone went to eat lunch at Real Plaza. President Risso sometimes gives zones permission to do that. Double Quarter Pounder combo and a McFlurry. Awww yeah....

I didn't get your mail this week, like I was expecting. I'll have to wait for the update from home a little while longer. I miss you though! Talk to you next week! Buh-bye!

-Elder Hems

PS: I have like 100 zancudo bites! I'm not kidding! I'm being eaten alive here!!! SO ITCHY!

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