Friday, May 31, 2013

"I'm so willing to try any weird food here at least once. Because now for the rest of my life I can tell people that I've eaten bunny, and guinea pig, and bull intestines, and chicken feet."

"Eatin' guinea pig... Yes, that is a foot."


Well, here I am in Cajamarca. It is chilly. The weather is weird here. I think this is the only place I've ever been that can be both too hot and too cold at the same time. I don't even know how that makes sense, but that's how I feel here a lot. Earlier today we were downtown and I had taken off my sweatshirt because it gets pretty warm (hot sometimes) in the afternoons here. I realized that it was really warm out, and I was getting hot, but then I realized that my feet were freezing. I don't get it. I almost always wear my sweater vest when we go out, but lots of times it gets too hot to wear it, even though it’s not hot outside? This place is messing with me.

Anyway, first things first. Wanna know what I did today that I haven't done in like infinity months?! I went out and bought guitar strings and picks and re-stringed a guitar and have been playing it a bunch all day. WOOHOO! THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!! I guess I haven't really told you about my pension yet. Well, my "pensionista" is named Celia. You saw her (or at least a vague outline of her) when we talked on Skype. She's really awesome, and she gives me Froot Loops, so I'm happy (actually I've switched from Froot Loops to this other cereal from here that I really like and I eat it with yogurt instead of milk. Peru). She gives us our three meals a day, and we live on the second floor of her house! So, that's convenient. Her husband's name is Francisco, and he's an RM, and they have two kids who are both older than me. The whole family is active in the church and awesome. They have a 26 year old son named Limhi (for realz, 'cept in Spanish it's like "Limmy") and a 23 year old daughter named Sandra, and the whole family is really fun. Limhi is basically one of the funniest people I know. And, also a bunch of other people live in this same house because they rent the rooms in the upper two floors out. Anywayz, one of the first things I noticed when I got here was that Limhi has a guitar that's always sitting out here that I've been messing around with for the past three weeks during free moments while waiting for meals to be served or something. You already saw a picture I think. Limhi even makes me homesick and plays songs I know 'n stuff (one of his favorite songs is "Best of Me" by The Starting Line. TRUNKY). Anyway, the strings were all real old, and the other day one of them snapped. I couldn't handle having a guitar around that I couldn't play because of a lack of strings, so, today Elder Trochez and I went out to an instrument store and I bought new strings and picks (because he doesn't have picks and I've been playing with my fingers for the past three weeks), and I re-stringed his guitar (which is WAY harder to re-string than my guitar is!!! Plus I don't have my fancy tools 'n stuff to do it easier) and I've been having a lot of fun finally being able to play guitar (with a pick) for the first time in basically my entire mission!! Limhi doesn't even know I re-stringed his guitar yet. He's out working or studying or somethin'. He'll find out someday. So, that has been a whole lot of fun.

This has been a pretty good week. Kinda busy! Busy as in we had a lot of stuff to do this week that wasn't proselyting. Though, we did some of that too. Here's some of the non-proselyting stuff we did. First, we did two service projects this week (you know what both of them were? Scraping paint off of walls. I hate doing that!!). I like service, and I'm glad I'm getting opportunities to do it here. Never got to in Picsi (though we sure offered to help a lot). On Thursday I had a baptismal interview with a 19 year old girl named Milagros. She's the sister missionaries’ investigator. Good interview. No probs. Has a ton of faith. Nobody else in her family is a member. But now her little brother also wants to get baptized! So, that's awesome. On Saturday we went to her baptism because she was baptized in our ward. First, Elder Trochez and I went to the church to set everything up. Had to clean the baptismal font, and then wait forever for it to fill up. We spent a very large chunk of our day doing that (like almost four hours I think...). Though, at one point we got bored of waiting for the water to fill up and we went out in search of cold soda in one of the nearby shops. Remember how hard it was for me to find cold soda in Chiclayo?... Well, it's actually worse here. It's way hard to find cold soda here! EVERY SINGLE SHOP SELLS SODA AND NONE OF THEM SELL IT COLD. We searched like four shops, that were all selling soda, and they even all had refrigerators, and not a single one of them had refrigerated soda!! So, we gave up and went to the mall instead. The mall sells cold soda. But that wasn't even the worst day. On Friday we had a special activity in the Baños del Inca (The Inca's Bathrooms??) area because a new chapel was just built there and the whole zone (or most of it) went to go invite everyone to the open house that was Saturday night. After we finished we were very thirsty, and I needed an Inca Kola, so we went to go buy some. We checked eight stores, and not a single one of them sold refrigerated soda. What's wrong with these people?! Do they not realize that soda tastes significantly worse when it's not cold?!?! Apparently not. Drinking anything cold here makes you sick. According to superstition. Psh. Anyway, back to the baptism. The baptism was at 4:00, and at 3:00 we were finally ready. But, we hadn't eaten lunch yet (which we usually eat at 1:00), so we headed home to eat lunch as fast as possible to get back in time for the baptism. We ended up getting to the baptism at like 4:30. Oops! But, it's Peru, and the baptism had just barely started. Thank goodness. This baptism was something else. You've heard all my complaints about the baptisms here. How they're never spiritual, and how they're never organized, and how the people in charge never do their part, and how there are always a ton of problems and lots of irreverence. Well, I think a miracle happened on Saturday (I mean, the girl who got baptized is named "Miracles" in English), because it was actually a really good baptism. Seriously, it was awesome. The ward was super ready and willing to help out and do their parts (actually, the missionaries didn't have to do anything). Great talks, great testimonies, even a rad special musical number. The Spirit was super strong in that baptism. Something I haven't been able to feel very strongly in most of the baptisms I've been to in Peru. In my farewell talk I talked about how one of the first times I can ever remember feeling the Spirit in my life was when Jacqueline got baptized. I felt the Spirit so strong that day it was almost overwhelming. I've been wishing I could feel that way again in another baptism, and I think this past Saturday it finally happened. It was just too cool. Props to my ward! I love my new ward!! I've been wanting to be able to say that my entire mission, and now I finally can!!

My ward is really, really awesome. It's a big ward. Good church attendance. Active members. Functioning organizations. The missionaries aren't in charge of everything. Our leaders are awesome, and they are super willing to help with the missionary work. It's basically a dream come true for me. The Aeropuerto Ward is the awesomest. I didn't know the church could even get this good in Peru! Like, almost United States level of good.

Something annoying that happened this week is that I haven't been sleeping well. I feel like I have minor insomnia or something. One night I was so tired but I just laid in bed wide awake for hours. The last time I remember checking the clock that night, it was 3:00am. The next night was just as bad. Now, I'm sleeping a little bit better. I think it's getting a little better every night. I dunno what caused it. But it sure made waking up absolute torture.

Oh duuuuuuuude. You know what else makes Hermana Celia so awesome (PS, you know what confuses the heck out of me? In Peru, in the Church, we call people Brother and Sister, like in the States, but here, sometimes they use the person's last name, and sometimes they use the person's first name, and it's just totally random!! For example, Hermana Rosa, my pensionista in Olmos, is named Rosa. That's her first name. But Hermana Yataco, my pensionista in Chiclayo, goes by her last name! I DON'T GET IT. It should always be the last name. But here it's mostly the first name)? The other night, she made us pizza for dinner. PIZZA. So good! Well, it was pretty Peruvian, but still, it was good (I've had some other Peruvian pizzas here that are just gross). This week I also ate guinea pig again. Mmmm. Seriously, it's way tasty. This time I got a leg, and its feet and claws were still there. I'm not sure why they think that looks appetizing, but whatever. Oh yeah, and I don't think I ever told you that the other week I ate bull intestines. Sound yummy? Well, it was... alright. I ate it, but it wasn't my fave. But I'm so willing to try any weird food here at least once. Because now for the rest of my life I can tell people that I've eaten bunny, and guinea pig, and bull intestines, and chicken feet. But seriously, I'm bummed that they don't eat cats here. I want one. (It doesn't even gross me out. The way I see it, is that almost all meat is delicious (except duck...), and so I don't care if it’s a cat or a dog or a horse or whatever, I bet it tastes good.)

Don't got much time left, but this week we met some good people too. One of my favorites is this guy named Pablo. We met him in the street outside his house and he let us right in to his home. He immediately gave us bananas and bread. Tasty (except banana bread would have been tastier). Super nice guy. Super humble. He is the leader of some Bible group or something from the Pentecostal church. But, he loves learning about the gospel and was excited to be able to talk to us. He told us that he hoped we would be able to help him understand the Bible better and that we would be a blessing for him and his family. Well, my favorite part was the way he acted. He just kept saying "Glory to God!" over and over again. I read a scripture, and when I finished he said "glory to God." We said goodbye, and he said "glory to God!" Haha. When we asked him to read a verse of the Bible he started by saying "The word of God; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..." and then he read it. Lolol. Funny Christian traditions.

Know what's fun? Still haven't gotten any mail from you guys since I've been here (okay, that's not really fun, but whatever). Expecting some this week. Who knows. Maybe the next time I hear from you will be in the Eugene Airport in person.

Well, I'm having a good time here in Cajamarca. This is by far the coolest place I've been in my entire mission. And it's by far my best ward I've been in. So, great combo. I like it here. We're a little low on investigators, but everything else makes up for that. I miss you guys a lot. It’s really weird for me to think that I don't have to wait two years anymore to see you guys again. I just have one really important question....for Jacqueline: What kind of cake are you going to have for your birthday?? Just wonderin'.

Alright, I gotta go. Gosh dang it you know what? There is a place (or multiple places) that sells Mountain Dew here in Cajamarca, and I don't know where it is! I heard they sell it in Baños del Inca, which is a little ways away. Way outside of my area. I had better drink some Dew sometime soon. But, at least I have root beer now. And it is the most delicious thing ever. And Limhi loves root beer too (which is weird because most latinos either don't like it, or hate it), and Elder Davis (who used to be in this area) sent Limhi some root beer concentrate, and so we've been making our own root beer these past few days. SO GOOD.

You know what else is weird? I think my favorite flavor of Pringles has switched from Sour Cream and Onion to Jalapeño flavor. I swear Jalapeño Pringles are one of the most delicious foods I've ever eaten in my entire life...

Alright, I'm leaving for real now. Miss you guys!

-Elder Hemz

Here's the other pictures that Victor sent this week:


"Look at my lol guitar picks I bought."

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