Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Anyway, something really really special is happening right now in Picsi. It is honestly one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed before in my life..."

Dude, Oregon!

Wow, I've spoken so much English in these past few days it’s ridiculous. I'm getting my languages really confused because of it. On Friday we had a district leader training meeting where I got to see a ton of North American missionaries and speak some serious English with them. Saturday was General Conference, and, something amazing happened!! For the first time in my entire mission, I got to see every single session in English!!! It was sooooo good! And, it's my last Conference in the mission, so I never have to listen to the translated version ever again! YESSS!!!!!!! Anyway, I watched it with all the white kids in my zone. Way fun. Spoke a lot of English. Sunday too. Today was p-day and we took a cool trip to this place that I don't know what it's called, but basically we hiked up this mountain and hung out for a bit. It took the whole day, so the whole day I was basically speaking English. This is nuts! Also, I remember Jacqueline told me that I spoke with an accent when I spoke to you guys at Christmas, but I've never been able to hear it. And none of the other North American missionaries can hear it either, so, Jacqueline, you're crazy!! But, there is a new sister missionary in our zone, named Hermana Batman (seriously... that is so awesome.) and the other day we realized that she speaks English differently than we do, and we pretty much realized that we basically all have accents now and we've just never noticed because we're all developing them at the same time. That is so gross!! I don't want to talk to you guys when I get home (and I especially don't want to pray out loud)...

Anyways, this has been a pretty good week. The highlight was Conference for sure. I loved way too many parts to list each one. But what really stuck out to me this time was each time an apostle bore his special witness of Jesus Christ. President Packer said "He lives. I know He lives. I am His witness." President Eyring said "I am a witness of the resurrection of the Lord... I know that He lives... I so testify as a witness of the Risen Savior." Elder Robert D. Hales said "I bear my special witness that He lives." And there were some other times too. Those really stuck out to me this time. I mean... these are special witnesses of Jesus Christ!! Pretty awesome to me. I also really liked when Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke about all the stars and planets and worlds and said that scientists say that there are over 200 billion galaxies similar to the Milky Way in the universe. That basically blew my mind. And then when he mentioned that all of them were created by the priesthood it just really put into perspective for me how amazing and how sacred the priesthood power I hold is. Too cool. Oh yeah, and I also really liked what Elder Tad R. Callister said when we mentioned the saying "do not die with your music still in you." Yeah, okay, I'll take that literally. I have so much music in my brain that I have to turn into actual music when I get home! And if I die, it will be lost. Can't happen! Haha.

Oh yeah, and I got your Easter package! Thank you! We ate the candies during Conference. Luckily, we were watching it in a separate room from everyone else on a small TV, so it was easier to eat lots of candy in there than in the chapel with all the other members staring at us and judging us. Haha. And the photos were so cool this time!! Wow wow wow! I love those! So cool to see pictures of my family and my ancestors as missionaries. Also, I was wrong the other time I told you, I did the math again, and really it's more like my family has given over 40 years of full-time missionary service. Not 30. Whoa.

Anyway, something really really special is happening right now in Picsi. It is honestly one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed before in my life. We have these investigators, Carolina and Alfredo. They are an unmarried couple who have been together for a long time and have three kids. They are probably the most dirt-poor family in all of Picsi. And their house is probably the worst house I've ever entered or even seen in my entire mission aside from the tarp house I visited my first Christmas in Pacasmayo. Their house is depressing. They basically live outside because they don't have real walls, or a front door, or a real ceiling, or floor, or furniture. When it rains, their house floods, and the ground turns into a swamp, and the whole family gets sick. It's a really sad situation. Plus, the people in Picsi think that Carolina is crazy. She is a little silly, and socially awkward, but she's not crazy at all! She's just a mother under extremely desperate circumstances trying to provide for her children. Anyway, we've been visiting them for a while. Right from the start they realized that they need to get married, and they've been making plans for it and have been excited about it ever since we've started talking to them. So, that's cool. It was so touching to me one of the first times that we visited Alfredo. He thanked us so much, not just for the message we shared with him (he wants his children to be baptized. We taught him that the whole family can be baptized!), but more than anything he told us how thankful he was that somebody had interest in him and his family. He thanked us just for caring. This family is living in probably the saddest situation I've ever seen. Well, ever since we told our pensionista, Hermana Gotty, that this couple wants to get married, she's been super active in trying to help them be able to marry. She's one of Carolina's few supporters, strongly defending the fact that she is not just some crazy lady. So, she had talked with them both a bunch of times, but last week, for the first time ever, she went to see them at their house. She had no idea how desperate and depressing their situation was until she saw their awful living conditions. Gotty told us that night that she was shocked (and she told us "I know what it's like to live in poverty. I've had to use a table for my front door before. But I've never seen poverty to that extreme before...), and that she couldn't stop thinking about it, and she told us that she won't be able to relax until that family's quality of life improves. So, Gotty talked with some of the members and then they went to Chiclayo and talked with the bishopric and relief society president about the situation. Well, thanks to that, a miracle is happening in the lives of this family, because now the church members are going to build this family a new house, and buy them furniture, and clothing, and what they need to start living a less destitute life. Gotty then went and talked to the mayor, who is Alfredo's brother (can you even imagine how the mayor could let his own brother live in such conditions?!), and she got him to agree to marry the couple for free (hasn't happened yet, but it will), and also got him to give the family a piece of property to build on, also for free. Now, the members are all trying to help and friendship this family, and support them however they can. Seriously, like I said before, this is one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed. The members here actually seem like true latter-day saints. They actually seem like true members of The Church of Jesus Christ. Coming together to help this family who has nothing, and working this great miracle in their lives. These members frustrate me to no end sometimes, but right now I am so proud of them, and I'm so proud to be associated with them. This is really the coolest thing I've ever seen happen on my mission. It’s incredible.

Anyway, also this week, I finished The Book of Mormon! Whoa, reading it that fast really helped me to capture the entire thing as a flowing story and history a lot better than reading it slowly. Now I have it much clearer and fresher in my mind how everything in The Book of Mormon relates to each other, and a lot of things make a lot more sense to me now. Reading it speedy was a good choice. Thinking about reading the New Testament again. I really want to read the Old Testament and Doctrine and Covenants, but I feel like those won't be as helpful for me on my mission, and they can wait until I get home. Gotta open up the OT on occasion because there are a ton of people here who don't really understand the way things changed between the Old and New Testaments, but really, more important than anything are the teachings of Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. So, that's prob what I'll read next.

Well, I'm about to go over my time this week! Gotta cut this short. Sorry, I started my internet time this week by trying to organize my memory card. I got your mail! Way jealous that you were in CA. Still waiting to hear about what you actually did there. Wondering if you went to Disneyland without me, again. Haha. Wow, Bryn's going to prom again. Didn't that just happen? A year has seriously already gone by? But seriously, why is prom so ridiculously early this year?? My prom was at the end of May! Actually I don't remember. I don't know if that's true. The year before it was at the end of May, because I remember my concert was the same day as prom, and it was May 30th. Haha.

Anyway, I miss you! I think I'll close this week with a quote from my journal. This was before a day that I had to get up earlier than normal for District Leader Training:

Well, I'm gonna rest up for tomorrow. There is little I dread more than having to wake up early. I'm pretty sure Hell is just like normal life, except that you have to wake up really early every morning... I don't want to go to Hell...

-Elder Hemsley

Here are some pictures that Victor sent this week:

"This is what I always imagined Peru would look like! One year and a half years later, I finally actually made it to Peru."
"Reunited with the old office group!"
"Our zone (Zona Latina) at Conference."

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