Monday, February 25, 2013

"I was thinking about it the other day, and between all the members in my family (on both sides) that I know who have served missions (cousins, uncles, aunts, parents, grandparents, etc...), I realized that in total my family has given over 30 years of full-time missionary service. That's super rad."

Wow, the internet here is unbelievably, frustratingly slow. Let's just say I've been sitting here for 15 minutes and I'm just barely able to start typing to you guys. This is worse than the internet we had when I was like six years old. The fact that they're trying to charge me normal price for this internet is a little bit unreasonable, but whatever. I'm in Peru.

This has been an especially hot week. Unbearably hot at times. Usually in the morning. We are suffering here during the day. At night it cools down (and if we're lucky, it cools down in our room too... sort of.). Sadly, it's not going to get any cooler any time soon. We're right in the middle of the hottest part of Summer, and considering even Winter is really hot, I don't really have much to look forward to weather-wise. Also, the zancudos have become unbearable. I'm still covering my body in repellant at night, but I'm still covered in bug bites. And they're starting to hurt a lot worse than before. My legs are painfully itchy these days. I try not to itch that much, but, I don't have enough will-power or something, and some of the bites are turning into open wounds and... I don't know what to do honestly. There seems to be no way to escape it. We seem to be made to suffer. It's our lot in life. I like Star Wars.

Anyway, more baptisms this week! Anallely and Jhon were baptized on Saturday. Way super awesome. These two kids are great. Anallely is especially smart. She gets everything we teach her right away. Once we went to visit them, and Jhon wasn't there, but Anallely had all the right answers to all the questions. At the end we asked her if she was sure that she still wanted to get baptized. She got quiet for a second and thought about it. I was sort of worried about what her answer was going to be honestly. Haha. But she said yes. I asked her why she wants to get baptized, and her answer was pretty awesome: "Because I want to enter into the kingdom of God, and I want to live with my family forever." Yep, this girl gets it. Jhon is rad too, but a lot of the times he wasn't there when we visited them, so he was less sure about some of the answers. But still had the desire to get baptized. On Friday our zone leaders Elder Nova and Elder Lonsdale came to interview them. Before the interview Elder Lonsdale asked them "well, before we get started, do you have any questions for us? Like, where did God come from? Because, we don't know." Hahaha. Funny guy. He's from Canada. The only Canadian in the mish. Anyway, the interviews went great and the next day they got baptized. Their baptism was really nice. We took the dumb ol' combi up to Chiclayo like last time. Elder Rich and Elder Cuadros (from our district) were there and they helped us out a bunch. Elder Rich directed the baptismal program and Elder Cuadros gave a nice talk. Finally, Elder Arévalo and I both got to baptize. I baptized Anallely first. This girl wasn't afraid of the water, which was refreshing, so there were no problems. Except when I baptized her her clothes didn't go all the way under the water, so I had to do it twice. Haha. Oops. They each got a new set of scriptures, and the next day they were confirmed in sacrament meeting. Cool promises are made in priesthood blessings. These kids have some amazing blessings awaiting them in the future if they stay strong in their faith, I really love these kids and their parents. What a great family. Their parents just need to get married and then they'll be able to follow the example of Anallely and Jhon.

"Anallely and Jhon's baptism."


So, that was the highlight of my week. The rest of the week was pretty good too. On Monday night Elder Davis called and told me that our IDs finally got here, so we could go finish everything up in the bank. We went to Chiclayo on Wednesday, and... I didn't finish everything. But, we made progress. Gonna have to go back though. Got to see the new office. It's pretty nice. A lot smaller than the old one though. But it's in probably the nicest chapel in all of Chiclayo. It actually sort of reminded me as a chapel from the United States. Oh yeah, P.S., chapels are different here. They're... not as nice. And they're all fenced in with a super high wall or fence and a giant gate that you have to open to get inside. All the windows are barred. It’s kind of depressing and creepy. But that's what you gotta do I guess when you live in a not-safe culture.

After going to the office (and using it as an excuse to eat lunch with the Yataco family :D ) I had a work visit with the ZLs. I went to Cabrera, Chiclayo with Elder Nova, and Elder Lonsdale went and replaced me in Picsi. I like Chiclayo because there aren't as many zancudos. I always come back from Chiclayo less itchy. Elder Nova is also way cool. I've known him since I entered the office in July. So I got to spend the day with him, teachin' and stuff. We taught well together. He's been out here as long as I have, and it's fun when you have those rare moments to teach with someone else who's been out here a long time (not that Arévalo doesn't teach well, because he teaches awesome. Better than me. He should be senior companion by now) and there's not really a junior or senior companion. Just two missionaries who already know the drill and are just out to save some souls. Fun times. He and Elder Lonsdale live with Elder Rich and Elder Cuadros so I got to spend the night with them too. I miss living with other missionaries. It's really a lot more fun than just living with your companion, no matter how awesome your companion is. Anyway, it was pretty fun to go out and do something different and teach with Elder Nova. Thursday morning Elder Nova had an interview with President Risso, and so I got to talk to President for a few minutes too. He told me that for a group to become a branch there needs to be at least four Melchizedek priesthood holders. Right now we have two I think. And there needs to be like at least three... or five (I don't remember...) full tithe payers. I don't know how we're doing on that one. I guess the members here don't like to receive blessings so big that there isn't room enough to receive it. Anyway, they're seriously trying to turn this group into a branch, and if it happens while I'm still here, they said that most likely the missionaries would be the first and second counselors to the branch president. So, being a part of the branch presidency may be a part of my near future. Scary. Depends on how quick this group becomes a branch!

On Friday we had a multi-zone conference, and those are always awesome because we always get to eat pizza at them!... Except this time we didn't get any pizza! NOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, that was a little bit sad. But, it was still awesome because President Risso's talks are the best. This time he just spoke a ton about the life of Jesus Christ, and about being representatives of Him. He asked "how can you claim to be representatives of Jesus Christ if you don't even know what Jesus Christ did?" Basically got me way stoked on studying more fully the life and teachings of Christ. The four gospels, and 3 Nephi. Coincidentally, a few weeks ago I started reading Jesus the Christ again, and I'm loving it even more than the first time. Gotta learn more about Christ if I really want to be a worthy representative of Him.

That night we had a "noche misional" activity where we played makeshift bowling with all the empty bottles of Inka Cola that we've been drinking. Which is a lot. I swear, I'm trying to cut back on the soda. But it's so freaking hot here and it's just so delicious when you buy it fresh outta the fridge. I've seriously become worried about my health here in Peru, because like I've said before, I never feel 100%, and my diet of rice, rice, and rice, with some chicken, is not giving me all the necessary nutrients I need. How do these people live normal healthy lives eating this food?!... the answer is, they don't. The people here are not healthy.

I was going to tell you about some of the frustrating things about having to deal with a highly apostate group of members of the church who don't even have testimonies or believe in modern day revelation or living prophets, but, I don't really wanna talk about that. I just have to remember that the church is new here, and like I read in an Ensign you sent me a long time ago, one of the apostles said that for the church to really be strong, it needs to have third and fourth generation members as leaders. So, basically, that won't happen here for another three or four generations, and until then, we just have to be patient and understand! It's the exact same thing that happened when the church was just starting with Joseph Smith. How many of the leaders of the new church were excommunicated? A ton. Generations later, the church has grown into what it is now in the United States, and I miss it a lot! Even in the times of Christ, or soon after his death, Paul marveled at how soon the members of the church fell away and started following "another gospel." Whenever the church is just barely starting, it is going to be difficult, but with time it will grow strong. With a lot of time.

I finally got mail this week! And wow! Tons of great news! I can't believe how many people are getting their mission calls! And I'm especially super excited for Zanna! The Philippines?! That is so freaking cool!! Speaking Hdaieasdfaljkeyieuidjjdnnd, or whatever that language is that I've never heard of. I was thinking about it the other day, and between all the members in my family (on both sides) that I know who have served missions (cousins, uncles, aunts, parents, grandparents, etc...), I realized that in total my family has given over 30 years of full-time missionary service. That's super rad. Super rad super rad super rad!

And Bryn got into Ricks College! WooOoOoo! Duuude, por favor let me know asap what track you get in. I feel like it would be really stupid if they put us in different semesters, but it could happen. I wanna know, because I feel like that would basically be the deciding factor for me in whether or not I want to start school in September, or in January. Both have their big pluses and their big minuses. I don't really like either option, which is why I can't decide (why can't BYU-I just have a normal semester system?!). But maybe I'll just copy whatever you do. Spring semester can go get dead really hard. Anyway, sounds like your senior year is especially easy, like mine was. That's how it should be. I loved senior year!! Enjoy it. Eat Carl's Jr.

You guyz saw the Hobbit, and basically all everyone said to me was that it was "good." Doesn't sound too promising to me. Perhaps the hype was just too darn big so that the movie could never really live up to everyone's high expectations. I'm still super excited to see it though! Even though The Lord of the Rings just totally copied Star Wars by releasing a first trilogy and then releasing the prequel trilogy after. I'm still wondering how they're gonna stretch one book into three super long movies. Anyway, stop distracting me from preaching the gospel... Just kidding.

I miss you all a whole heck of a ton of a lot! It's almost March. The sisters I started my mission with are going home. That is super weird. Those 24 never-ending months I used to have are all of the sudden coming to an end. But not quite. Still got enough time to help s'more families! I'll talk to you next week! Bye!

Elder Hems

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"The gospel changes lives, and seeing those changes happen in families you're teaching is just the coolest thing ever."

Hey familia!

Bad news, I got stuck with one of those computers that has a really old not-working-that-well keyboard. Great. Mostly the "L" key doesn't work. Let's see what I can type here...

Well, before I forget, because I keep forgetting every week, my mailing address changed! The office moved to a new (way less cool) place this week, and now all mail's gotta get sent there instead of where you've been sending it too. The new address is this:


So yeah. Jus' remember that. But, my mail paranoia continues, and, even though it's like way cooler to get an actual physical handwritten letter from someone, I feel like the absolute best way to write me is through Dear Elder, because the church sends those right to the mission office by FedEx and it's way more reliable than the post office. Just a tip. However, if you wanna send me a nice card or a photo through regular mail, I won't complain :) Just don't get too angry if it never gets to me!

Anywayz, so yeah, the office moved this week. That means I will never again set foot in the office I spent six months of my life in. Kinda weird. The new office is way worse (actually, I've never been to it. I just know that it's in a church building now, and it's smaller than the old office, and it's in a way worse location. But it's cheaper, so that's why they moved). I'm super glad I wasn't around for the moving. I hate moving! Moving from one apartment to another in Pacasmayo was like the worst thing in the world! I left just in time. Duude. Elder Perea should have been transferred this past week, but he's totally staying in the office. His fifth transfer in the office! He's gonna be in the office for seven months! Poor guy, he's wanted to leave ever since he got there. Weird transfers.

This week was Valentine's day! Woo! Got your package (however, I still haven't gotten any mail from you guys. My zone leaders should be giving me a few weeks worth of letters tomorrow.) and opened that on the 14th. Thanks for the candy! Elder Arèv says thanks too. We sure like candy. And the photos! Wow, you sent a ton this time!! Way cool photos!! Especially the pictures of mom on her mission! The Guatemala pics were really cool too. All the pictures were way cool. Thank you thank you! I miss you guys!

Well, this was a pretty normal nothing-too-special-happened kind of week. However, one really cool thing did happen. Allow me to share, por favor. So, remember how last week I said it's been a personal goal of mine to find future priesthood holders in Picsi? Well, I found something even better. Once upon a time we were tracting in an area called Vista Florida. It was an especially hot day, and tracting was especially boring that day. After a bunch of unsuccessful door-knocking, we come up to this one house that's front door is already open. There's a guy inside watching TV. Usually at this point in my mission I tend to want to skip houses where people are watching TV because they almost always ignore us or want nothing to do with us because they're watching something really really important on TV!!! But, this time I stayed. We didn't knock, we just said "buenas tardes...". The guy turned around, and without us even saying anything else he invited us right in, and he started speaking to me in English! Broken English, but still. He told me that he went to live in Australia for five years and learned to speak English there. He said a few other things I didn't quite understand, and then I realized he was saying the name of our church in English. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Weird. Then he told us that he's a member of the church! He was taught by the missionaries in Australia, and got baptized, got the priesthood, went to the temple, did baptisms for the dead, baptized some of his friends from Africa, and a whole lot more stuff. Whoa whoa whoa. We ask if we can visit with him for a minute, and he said yeah and got up and went into the other room for a second. He came back out with his King James version of the Bible and his Book of Mormon in English. Haha. Wow! The ward he went to in Australia was English speaking. He doesn't even own Spanish scriptures. He was really active in Australia, but when he came back to Lima he sort of started going a little inactive, and then when he came to Picsi he went completely inactive, because the church didn't even exist in Picsi at that point. We spoke with him for a while. He's a way cool guy. And his name is Victor! Yes, my name is extremely common in Peru... Victor Mendoza. He told us he had no idea that a small congregation had started here in Picsi, and told us that he's never seen missionaries here before. He said he was really surprised when he turned around and saw members of the church he had joined in Australia at his door. He said that when he saw us, it was as if Jesus Christ spoke to him and said "Victor, here I am at your door. Please, let me back into your life." Wow. Sometimes you just have some way awesome experiences in your mission. That was one of them! It was no coincidence that we found Victor that day. Just as I was thinking about how badly we needed to find future priesthood holders to help the church grow in Picsi, we find someone who already holds the priesthood in some random house. The coolest thing ever. I hope we can help this guy. He was very thankful that we found him and shared a little bit of the gospel with him that he had lost. Very cool. That was the highlight of my week.

Some other things... Well, on Thursday I got to interview somebody for baptism. An investigator from Lopez Albujar. A 21 year old named Heber ("Ebber"). Basically, he was super ready to get baptized and has a strong testimony and desire to take this step in his life. No problems. He had some good questions that I was able to help him out with. He got baptized on Saturday. I wasn't there, but still, cool.

On Friday night we had a big ol' soccer activity here in Picsi for the members and investigators, and also the members from Lopez Albujar. It went real well. Everyone had fun. It was stupid though because we rented the place out from 7PM-10PM, and when we got there at 7:00 there were these dumb dance lessons going on until 8:00 and even though we were paying for that hour they wouldn't let us play until the dance class finished. And there was this gigantic stage set up right on the soccer field that took up like a third of the field! It had been set up earlier that day, knowing that we had rented the place out to play soccer that night. I was super frustrated, but nobody wanted to argue with the owners except for me, so I keep quiet too. You just have to get used to stupid things like that in Peru.

On Sunday for some reason they asked me to lead the sacrament meeting. I don't know why, but I did it. Kind of weird. I've never done that before. Cool experience though.

Not much else happened this week. We're still visiting Daniela and her family. I'm seeing big changes in their family, and it’s making me so happy. The gospel changes lives, and seeing those changes happen in families you're teaching is just the coolest thing ever. The family seems way happier than they were before. The gospel really changes lives. It's a miracle.

"Daniela's Baptism!"

We're also still visiting all the other people I usually talk about. Edgar and Jacqueline's two kids, Anallely and John, are going to get baptized this weekend. We're way excited! This is another amazing family. All of our visits with them are so great. It's always been my dream in the mission to teach entire families, and I've never been able to do it in any of my areas. Always just one or two people at a time. Here, I have two amazing families we're visiting all the time. It's just what I've always wanted to do.

Anyway, I gotta get going. I'm trying to not ask the lady at the front desk for extra time this time after my regular hour runs out (that almost always happens every week because I just write too much!) so I can save some serious soles (to spend on soda).

I'll hopefully read your mail tomorrow and so next week I'll be able to comment on all the silly things that are happening at home. Did Grandma and Grandpa get their mission call yet?!?! I want to know! Perhaps I will find out tomorrow. Maybe not.

Alright, until next week! See ya in less than two years!!

-Elder Hemsley

Here are a few more pictures that Victor sent.  The rest can be seen by clicking the slideshow at the top of this blog.

"More rice planting."

"In the rice plantation."

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Ugh. Air conditioning would solve all my problems. I wouldn't die of heat, and I wouldn't die of bug bites because we would never need to open the window to let the breeze in."

Yo dewds!

"Planting some rice."

P-day got changed this week, and they didn't let us know until the last possible second. Sunday night they told us that Monday wasn't p-day, and that Tuesday is gonna be our p-day this week. Oh great, thanks for giving us plenty of time to plan for that! We had a bunch of appointments scheduled for Tuesday, and nothing scheduled for Monday! That was sort of annoying. But it's all good. I'm currently in Chiclayo because my district decided to go out to lunch at Norky's for P-day. Mmmm. So, I'm actually in my last area right now, which is weird.

I think this journal entry serves as a good intro for this e-mail:


My room is so stupidly hot. I haven't slept with sheets since I got to Picsi. Which has left me vulnerable to zancudo bites all night long. I've actually been covering myself with bug spray every night before going to sleep. It helps, but it feels disgusting! And I'm running out of bug spray real fast. I've gone through an entire bottle already just in my short time here. Ugh. Air conditioning would solve all my problems. I wouldn't die of heat, and I wouldn't die of bug bites because we would never need to open the window to let the breeze in. Wouldn't have to bathe in repellant.

Yes, there are way too many bugs that like to feast on my delicious blood here in Picsi. Just the other day I walked outside and this mosquito landed on me and started sucking my blood. But then I realized that it was no ordinary mosquito. It was a green mosquito. AND GREEN EQUALS POISON!! And then I realized that it wasn't actually sucking my blood, but it was kicking my legs really really hard! It broke my legs and I passed out. After who knows how many days, I finally woke up sitting in a wheelchair.

Actually that didn't happen. But it sure makes a good story.

Anyway, transfer week! You know what that means right?... I'm not extremely busy because I'm not in the office! Woo! I was real nervous about transfers though. I've been with Elder Arèvalo for only like three weeks, and he's been in Picsi for a while, so there was a strong chance he was gonna get booted. But, luckily, the transfer gods had mercy on me and let me keep my companion one more transfer! Woo! Except there's actually going to be transfers again in three weeks, so its possible he might only be here three more weeks. But still, three is better than zero.

This week was pretty good! Lotsa stuff happened. The best of which was that we had a baptism! I baptized an eleven year old girl named Daniela. Her parents aren't members, and they aren't married, so they can't get baptized yet, but they agreed to let Daniela be the first in their family to take that step. Way rad! More on that later.

I still haven't gotten any mail from you guys. Probably won't until like next Tuesday. I expect to be handed a huge pile of mail from my Zone Leaders. But until then, I have no idea what has been going on in real life lately.

This week we've been busy teachin' lessons! I like it. We're still visiting Victor, and he's still awesome! This week we taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and at the end we asked him if he was willing to prepare to be able to be baptized, and his answer was so awesome! It was basically "Isn't that what I've been doing this whole time?!" Haha. So cool! We also taught him the Word of Wisdom the other day. I was a little worried about that lesson, because the first time we met him he was a little drunk, and one of his neighbors also told us that he has a drinking problem, but ever since that first visit every time we've seen him he's been sober. Anyways, he totally accepted everything we said, and he even started teaching us about exactly how tea, coffee, and beer damage our bodies. Haha. Too cool. He said he'd have no problem keeping the word of wisdom. Somehow I believe him. Rad!

This week was another first for me: I had my first work visit as district leader. I went to Campodònico, which is in Chiclayo, with Elder Sainsbury. Rad guy. Had a fun ol' time speaking English and talkin' about music n' stuff. And working hard of course! Knocked a lot of doors, because here, it’s just normal that your appointments fall through, and they all did. Did some good work with Sainsbury. Way cool guy. Then, when that ended, we had a district tracting activity in Lopez Albujar, the other area in my district, also in Chiclayo. We split up and went searching for elect souls. I was paired with Elder Bracho. He's from Chile, and I was in the Lima MTC with him. He's way fun. We actually had a lot of success together in the short few hours we tracted. We talked to a ton of people and got into a few houses n' everything. Good day.

Anyway, let me tell you about Daniela. She's this little girl we met not that long ago because we've been visiting her aunt Thalia. One day our appointment with Thalia fell through, and so we knocked on the door of Daniela's house and talked for a little bit with Daniela's mom, Jovana. Made another appointment, and from there things just took off. My journal explains it pretty well:


Visited another cool family who came to church with us on Sunday. The Bautista Ramirez family. Valdomero and Jovana, and their four kids. The parents accept the baptismal invitation, but they're not married yet, and it doesn't seem like Jovana is too big on the idea of marrying her boyfriend. She seems depressed to me, and I think their relationship has had a few rough points in the past. But, they're cool. They accepted supporting their eleven year old daughter Daniela in getting baptized first. Rad! This is a good family. I wanna help them in whatever way I can.


Daniela is still set to get baptized this weekend. Visited her and her family tonight. Her mom has a lot of doubts and trust issues. I feel sad for her. I feel like she's suffered a lot, and she just looks so sad all the time. But, whenever we say something that makes her smile, it’s like the best thing in the world. Seeing this sad lady smile just for a second makes me feel so good inside. That's what being a missionary is all about. Making people happy. It's the best.


This has been a weird past few days. No normal days. Work visits, district activities, baptismal interview... that was today! Today Daniela was interviewed, and totally passed! She's getting baptized tomorrow. Rad! Stoked on that. Hope her parents can follow her soon. We had a visit with their family tonight, and we watched a video, and as we were watching it, I just looked at this family, and pictured them being sealed and being an eternal family, and it made me so happy to think of that. I want this family to be together forever. I want them to have all of these blessings. That's my goal. Daniela is taking the first step, and being the example. Someday I hope the rest of the family can do the same.


Baptism day!! Today was a nice day. Since there is no baptismal font in Picsi, our baptisms have to take place in the stake center in Chiclayo. We all got in a big ol' combi to go to Chiclayo. Us, Daniela and her family, Edgar and Jacqueline and their family, Harly, and a few other members and non-members. But hardly any members! First of all, there are barely any members in Picsi, and second, none of them could come today. Boo! But, there were like seven investigators there, so it was kewl. We showed up in Chiclayo, and los asistentes were there waiting for us. Good ol' Elder Infante and Elder Insaurralde. Rad! Elder Juergens and Elder Nova also showed up because they had the baptismal clothing for Daniela. The baptism was nice. The were lots of investigators, and very few hymnals, which was a little silly, but whatever. Elder Arèvalo gave a short message, and then I got to baptize Daniela! She, like most kids here, was a little nervous, but was brave and I baptized her without any problem. How come the only people I've ever baptized are kids?! Sam, Haylander, Piter, Daniela, and the sister's investigator Milagros, who was 14 years old, and is the oldest person I've ever baptized. Haha. I'm honestly afraid to baptize a big person. I don't know if I could do it! But anyway, the baptism was nice, and Hermano Miguel, a member of the Lopez Albujar bishopric, gave Daniela a Bible and a triple combination. Cool! A little later in the day we stopped by Daniela's house and re-taught her a little about prayer. Her seven year old brother Fernando totally knew the steps to pray too and was excited to show us. Haha. During the visit Daniela told me that I'm her godfather... what?! Haha. I didn't really know what to say, so I didn't really say anything. Haha. But, I guess if she wants me to be her godfather then I guess that's okay. Honestly it just made me feel happy that she said that. This family is really opening up to us and accepting us more little by little. The kids now get excited when we show up at their house, and even the mom who's still really quiet and awkward and sad seems to be smiling more. Short smiles that come and go in like two seconds, but whenever I see that smile I feel so thankful that somehow we're doing something to make her feel happy for at least a short moment. I know what Daniela did today is going to be a huge blessing for this family. The gospel will bring light and joy into their lives. Their family will grow closer, and grow happier. Daniela took the first step. She's the leader, and the example, and God will bless the entire family for this choice she's made. This family will see changes and receive blessings. My greatest desire for them is that they can one day be happily sealed together for time and all eternity. The first step was taken today.


Today was cool because Daniela got confirmed! We went to her house to go to church with her and her family. Her family wasn't ready yet, but church was gonna start and we at least needed Daniela to be there, so we went to church with her and her brother. Her dad said they'd be there in five minutes. Fifty minutes later they showed up. Welcome to Peru. By then Daniela had already been confirmed, so they all missed it. The confirmation was pretty cool. Miguel, one of the members of the Lopez Albujar bishopric confirmed her. I got to participate in the laying on of hands. The blessing he gave to Daniela was really cool. He blessed her that in the not-too-distant future that she would be able to make sacred covenants in the temple and serve a regular mission. Wow!! Daniela the missionary! I can't wait for that day. Way rad.

So that's the story of Daniela. She's so awesome! I love her and her whole family. I hope we can keep helping them, because they're the awesomest. We have a bunch of women and children who could get baptized really soon. Nayeli (who the other day I learned that her name is spelled "Anallely") and her ten year old brother John are both gonna get baptized on the 23rd. The thing we really need in Picsi though is priesthood holders. There's one melchezidek priesthood holder in the... groupo familiar... and he's like 80 years old and a little slow. My personal goal is to find future priesthood holders, because we can baptize all the women and children in Picsi, and the groupo still won't grow until there are more members who hold the priesthood. We'll see how the search goes. Excited about Victor!

Anyway, I gotta get going. Valentine's day is in two days. Whoa! Happy V-day! I haven't gotten any of your letters, but somehow I did get the package you sent me. I assume it’s for Valentines day, so I haven't opened it yet. No me gusta spoiling surprises. Excited to see what you sent though!

On a completely random note, this extreme heat I'm suffering through messes with my brain and makes me think about being in California at the beach too much. Seriously, that's like what I most wish I was doing right now. Hangin' out at Newport Beach or something, listening to some legit Ocean Avenue. It made it way worse at lunch today when Elder Greene told me about how right before his mission he went to Newport Beach. Haha. Me too! Anyway, that's random. I want to go swimming.

On another kind of note, and speaking of notes, or letters, I'm just super paranoid that none of the mail I send to the states actually makes it to the states. I know a few letters that have been sent to me have never made it to me, and I feel like the same thing happens the other way around. So, just in case my very few precious letters that I actually get around to writing don't make it to the United States, just gonna throw it out there that in the past... I don't even know how long, I've sent two letters to the states. One to Tyler (Balkman... because I know like 100 people named Tyler...) and the other to Keegan. Tyler's should have already gotten there a while ago. Keegan's might not have yet, but if not, it should get there soon. Just so ya know. If you never get those letters, at least you now know that I tried. Haha. I'm seriously legit paranoid about mail here. It is not trustworthy. That's why I put Jesus stickers on my letters. Peruvians are less likely to open and steal my mail if it has Jesus on it. Maybe I should try putting the virgin Mary on them, it would probably be twice as effective.

Okay, I'm outta here. I miss your dumb faces! And I also miss Cheez-its! A lot!! See ya!

-Elder Hemsley

P.S.: Didja know that exactly seventeen months ago today was the last time I ate Carl's Jr.? Sad fact.

Here are some new pictures that Victor sent this week:

"Chillin' with Elder Sainsbury at Norky's on p-day."

"My Casa Capilla! Where we have our church meetings!"

"My comp and I."

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!