Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Got the call last night: Elder Arèvalo is outta here. I'm staying in Picsi, and I'm going to train another new missionary!"


Wow, guess what? It's already time for transfers! Got the call last night: Elder Arèvalo is outta here. I'm staying in Picsi, and I'm going to train another new missionary! Honestly, even though I've done it once before, I'm way nervous, but whatever. I wrote in my journal: "President Risso seems to trust me a lot more than I trust myself, and it always ends up okay in the end." Still, lots of pressure! I could make or break this new kid's mission! But, it should be fun. Picsi is gonna be a way hard first area to serve in. But, maybe it will make the rest of his mission feel like a breeze when he gets transferred. My first area was pretty hard too. Anyway, transfers are crazy this time because 35 new missionaries are arriving tomorrow!! That's by far the biggest group of missionaries that's ever arrived! Before that, I'm pretty sure my group was the biggest group, and we were like twenty-something people. 35 new missionaries this time. That is nuts. Opening up a bunch of new areas this transfer! Pretty rad I think. Elder Arèvalo is also going to be training a new missionary in who-knows-where. I think Dad was telling me that something similar was happening in Eugene. Like a million new missionaries are arriving. Pretty cool stuff.

As for this week... Honestly... It may have been the worst week of my entire mission. But, that doesn't mean that there weren't good parts. There were just a lot of bad parts. However, I think I'll try to focus more on the good than the bad. I vented enough in my journal, so that I don't have to repeat it in my e-mail. Many angry journal entries. No problems with my companion or nuthin'. Arèvalo is still awesome, and I'm sad that he's leaving. Just a lot of problems with the members. This little group of members is struggling a whole lot.

So, I'll skip right on ahead to the best part of our week: we had another baptism!! I didn't tell you that we were going to baptize someone last week. That's because I didn't even know! On Saturday, our pensionista's 16 year old step-daughter Melissa was baptized. We've been visiting her every now and then since I've been here. She usually understood everything pretty well, but she never really read anything we left her to read, and she never wanted to accept a baptismal date. Basically, she's been investigating the church for a whole year, ever since Picsi opened up last March (March 21st. We celebrated the church's first anniversary in Picsi this week!). She's gone through a whole lotta missionaries. We already knew that one thing she did not like was when the missionaries tried to make her accept a specific date to be baptized. So, we never set a date. On Tuesday we had another lesson with her. Pretty normal. Taught about the Word of Wisdom. No problems. But one thing was different about this time. She had actually read the chapter of the Book of Mormon that we had left her, and she had even highlighted the verses that really stuck out to her! She read 2 Nefi chapter 31. She told us that she specifically liked verse 5. She told us that she knows that baptism is necessary for our salvation, and that all the commandments we've been teaching her are important to keep. She told us that she really believes that the Book of Mormon is true, because when she reads it she feels a peace, and she feels good. We knew that Elder Arèvalo was gonna get transferred this week, so Elder Arèvalo asked her if she was willing to be baptized on Saturday, and she said yes!! We were so happy! So, on Saturday she was baptized. The coolest. It was a double baptism. She was baptized with a sweet old lady from the Lopez Albujar ward named Mavila, who I interviewed for baptism on Thursday. So, there were a lot of people at the baptism! From Picsi and from Lopez. Elder Rich and Elder Sanchez were there, because Mavila is their investigator, and the zone leaders showed up too. We threw together a special musical number at the last second (so last second that I don't even remember what song we sang) which was pretty kewl. As we were outside taking photos, President Risso showed up too! And he totally joined us in singing the hymn! Haha, way cool. Some people recorded it, I'm gonna try to get the video from them. I actually have a bunch of videos, but I can't send them to you because they're either too big, or the computers are just too slow to send them. But, when I get home, you can watch some vidz from my mish! So, we were very happy about Melissa's baptism. I felt like it was a miracle, because for a whole year she's been listening to the missionaries, and not accepting baptismal dates. Now almost the whole family are members. The only one who isn't is Melissa's dad. We'll have to see what we can do to complete the family. Heh. Way awesome though. A great way to end a bad week!

"Melissa's baptism."

Also on Saturday, the zone leaders caught my by surprise and told me that I had to go and teach English again in that same university as last time. Except, this time I had to teach alone!! Uhh, no way was that going to happen! I've told you before how bad I am at teaching English. Let's just say that in my year and a half in Peru, I haven't been able to help a single one of my companions learn any English, and when I taught the English class before, I had no idea what I was doing, and I was just sorta following Elder Greene who mostly took control. Luckily for me, in the end Elder Rich came too, so we taught together. But still, same thing, he mostly taught, and I kinda just followed along, sorta lost. We all have our weaknesses I guess. One of my big ones is teaching English. I sure hate doing it. But it turned out well, thanks to Elder Rich.

Speaking of English, in our weekly zone meetings (which, by the way, isn't it kind of weird that we have weekly zone meetings? Preach My Gospel only talks about district meetings. I think zone meetings only exist in the Peru Chiclayo mission...) we have a 15-minute English class for all the latin-american elders taught by Hermana Lee, one of the sisters in our zone. This time she announced that from here on out the opening and closing prayers in our zone meetings are going to be in English. Aw great! And I was the one who was going to give the closing prayer! I wrote about it later that night:


When the meeting came to a close, I had to pray in English. I gave the absolute worst prayer of all time!! I had no idea how to say the things that I wanted to say. I was thinking in Spanish, and trying my hardest to translate it to English. Trying and failing. The exact opposite of how it was at the beginning of my mission! It was kinda like "and... bless us that... err... that we can help... many people today." Ha! And that's not even what I wanted to say! But it was all I knew how to say, so I said it instead. Bad, it was so stupidly difficult. Kinda funny. All the other gringos knew exactly how I felt. For some reason, even though we can still speak to each other in English fairly normal, praying in English is the hardest thing ever!!! I don't know why. Especially since I say all my personal prayers in my head in English just fine...

Lolol. It was the worst. I can speak English just fine to other missionaries, but trying to speak to anybody else in English is the hardest thing ever. When I was in the office, there was little I dreaded more than having to speak to the parents of some missionary in English on the phone. I felt like such an idiot because I had no idea how to even talk to them! Haha. And it was confusing the heck outta me, because one thing that's funny in español is that we just call everone "hermano" or "hermana." Not only members of the church. Everybody. And it really helps me a whole ton when I can't remember the person's name, because I can just call them hermano and it's totally fine. And when I say brother, I don't mean, like, an actual brother, but I mean it like the way black people use it. Which is more meaningful I think. Hehehehe. But seriously, I was talking to this missionary's mom one time on the phone, en inglès, and it was really awkward because I didn't know how to address her. I saying stuff like "oh yeah, thank you... err... sister..." Haha. I hate English!! Just kidding I love it way more than Spanish.

Hmm, well, I also got mail from you guys finally! Two weeks worth I think! It was so good to finally hear your voices again via my imagination whilst I was reading your Dear Elders in my head! Good to hear what's up in Oregon. As far as me being able to change into Bryn's same track at BYU-I, as far as I know, it's not possible, but, if you find out otherwise, DO IT! Fall/Winter is way better than Winter/Spring. Though, you also told me that Zach got into Winter/Spring. Ooh, depending on when I start school, perhaps Zach and I could take back our ol' apartment that we both used to live in, at different times. Ha. That would be fun!

Anyways, seriously? Another dog?? Well, I'm still waiting to find out if you're keeping him or not. Weird. And way cool about all the people you keep telling me who are going on missions! Basically all of them at this point I feel like are people I met at EFY who I don't actually know that well, but still, COOL! Espesh since they're almost all girls.

I'm way jealous right now that you're in California. Not fair not fair!!! How many times have you gone now without me? Like, three? I've only been gone for a year and a half!! Why didn't I ever get to go that often?! Anyway, do what you did last year, and buy me an In-N-Out shirt! And buy me an In-N-Out burger too! And strawberry shake. Mmmmm... It has been such a freaking long time since I've had a milkshake...

Well, I gotta get going. This week should be an adventure! New comp! Fresh off the airplane! Just think about how weird it is, now that missionaries are in the MTC for less time, this means that two weeks ago, my new companion was totally making out with his girlfriend!! Hahaha.

Okay, I miss you a heck of a lot of a ton! Talk to you next week!

-Elder Hemsley

Here are some other pictures that Victor sent this week:


"Scary eyes!"

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