Monday, July 22, 2013

"Cajamarca is cold, and when heated houses don't exist, that makes showering a pretty unpleasant experience..."

Hello home!

Well, I just logged on to my e-mail to see 22 new messages in my inbox, all error messages telling me that the photos I sent you last week didn't make it through. Dang it, the internet has some serious problems here.

Well, I'm doin' pretty good these days. I can't believe how close I am to being home. But, the weird thing is, I'm a lot less excited about going home now than I used to be. The closer it gets, the sadder I am that this is all about to end. It's so unreal. But don't get me wrong, I'm ridiculously excited to see you guys again! I'm just a little bummed that my only chance to be a representative of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is almost over. This has been the hardest, and most stressful, most frustrating thing I've ever done in my entire life. And the best thing I've ever done. I wish that somehow I could go back and see you guys and still be a missionary at the same time...

Well, I'll tell you some stuff I guess...

We've been focusing a lot more on visiting members ever since that transmission from Salt Lake the other week. I can already see and feel a huge difference in the ward and the members here. We're gaining their trust and their friendship a lot more. They're getting more excited about participating in missionary work. It's pretty awesome. I feel like ever since that transmission the way we work has totally changed. The way I'm working now is so different than the way I've been working for the past two years. I like it. I'm excited to see how this new member-focused work style is going to help this work go forward for years to come.

Fun part of the week: Elder Meza came to visit! Brother Meza, actually. He finished his mish in December. His last area was this one, and so he came the other day to visit with another elder who recently finished too, Elder Cabrera. Way fun to see them again! Elder Meza is one of the most awesomest missionaries I've ever met. Super cool guy. Super fun to see him again. He told me that my Spanish has gotten way better. I can't tell. All I know is that my English has gotten worse. He's now teaching English at a Catholic school in Lima. It's not that weird, this is a Catholic country...

We visited a less active family this week. The Zapana Cordova family. The mom, Judith, went to live and work in Salt Lake City for three years, and met the missionaries and got baptized there. Seriously, why are there even missionaries in Salt Lake City if everyone is already Mormon? Hehe, just kidding. Anyway we talked to her and her daughter about the importance of reading the scriptures. She told us that when she was in Utah she read the entire Book of Mormon and she loved it. She felt so blessed when she was reading frequently and active in the Church in Utah. Her whole life had changed. Now that she's back in Peru she's sort of fallen away from all of that, and she misses it. She misses Salt Lake too. She loved how calm and clean it us compared to Peru. She wants to go back. And she wants to start reading her scriptures again to let that light that she used to have back into her life. Pretty cool. Hopefully we can help this family. But, her husband and oldest daughter are not members. She's now working in a karaoke-bar owned by her husband, and her busiest days are Friday and Saturday nights, all night. So, going to Church is hard. We'll see what we can do.

Something a little not-so-normal is that I taught one lesson this week sitting in the street. Haha. It’s a recently paved street and cars still aren't driving on it. We got a referral to go visit this 18 year old kid named Luis who's a member, and his two friends he lives with named Manuel and Reynaldo, who are 16 and 14. They don't have seats in their house, so we just sat down in the middle of the street and talked to them. Kinda different. Luis is a less active member. He used to live in an orphanage and the director of the orphanage was a member of the Church. The missionaries came and visited and a lot of the kids there got baptized. But then they got a new director who's Catholic who no longer let them go to Church or let the missionaries come visit (we're still not allowed in there), so he and the rest of the member kids stopped going to Church. When the kids turn 18, they leave the orphanage, and Luis showed up at Church on Sunday with Reynaldo. Pretty cool kids. The next day we went back to visit again and Manuel and Reynaldo accepted the invitation to be baptized. But, we can't set a date because they need permission first. They came to a Church activity with us after that. But, for some reason they didn't come back to Church on Sunday. Eh. We've only visited them twice. We'll help them out s'more.

I interviewed another kid this week for baptism. The interview lasted forever because the kid loved to talk! But he was awesome. Nine years old. No problems. Got baptized on Saturday. He, like basically every kid here (basically every person actually) was freaked out about the water, but he got baptized real quick without problems. I don't think he held his breath though because he came up gasping for breath. Hehe. Swimming lessons basically don't exist here, which probably explains everyone's fear of water. But, I still don't understand everyone's fear of cold drinks!! And I never will.

One thing that makes me mad is that people here keep trying to make my companion feel bad about his long hair. Especially people who think they know something about the scriptures. "What does the Bible say about men with long hair?" They yell at us North Americans in the street, and they stare and make rude comments about my companion. And when the smart alecs who try to use the Bible to tell my comp he shouldn't have long hair start talking, I just want to pull out a picture of Christ and be like "do you know who this is?" And they'll obviously be like "that's Jesus Christ." To which I'd respond "Yeah, it's Christ. Go tell Christ his long hair is a sin too." And some Christians here have the strangest beliefs ever. Dancing is a sin, non-gospel music is a sin, girls wearing pants instead of skirts or a dress is a sin, going to parties is a sin, having long hair is a sin, etc... But being mean to anyone who is different is not a sin. It seriously drives me insane.

Cajamarca is cold, and when heated houses don't exist, that makes showering a pretty unpleasant experience. We have a water heater, but it doesn't heat up the water very much. I still shiver every time I shower. I don't shower every day, because I can't handle it. Yesterday morning I took a shower. The electric water heater doesn't heat up the water very much. And if you put your hand up by the nozzle where the water comes out, the water shocks you because it's charged with electricity. Scary! Well, yesterday it was even worse, because while I was showering the water heater exploded!! I heard a pop and saw a flash of light and then I looked up and the water heater was busted and smoking. Kinda freaky. I got out of the shower pretty quickly after that. And now we don't have warm water to shower with. I'm going to have to borrow the other shower downstairs that isn't ours because if I don't I will never shower because it's freezing!

Last night we went to Hermano Casanova's house. He was my teacher in the Lima MTC. We went with the ZLs for dinner. We ate pizza and talked with his family. He's way cool, and really funny. So cool that I get to finish my mission in his ward! Had fun visiting them. They invited us back over on Wednesday for dessert. Yum!

Got yer mail, from like a month ago. And got yer first batch of e-mails! 22 months in, and I just got the first batch of e-mails from you guys. Haha. Cool. I'm so jealous that you're in Park City! Not fair!! But, no Tyler, no Mitchell, and no me?! Seems pretty lame to me. Hehe. And Jacque went to EFY?! Seriously I miss EFY so much, it was like the funnest thing I ever did. That's why I went back even after I graduated high school. Hehe, I had so much fun that year with James. We are silly. 

Alright, I gotta get going. Have some FHE's to go to tonight. I will see you so soon! I can't believe it!!

Elder Hemsley

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Today for p-day we went to this pretty sickawesome place called Cumbe Mayo which is like an hour or so from Cajamarca. It’s just this really pretty place that made me feel like I was in The Lord of the Rings or something... or in Zelda. DUDE, ZELDA!!!!"

Hola guyz

Hmm, I'm trying to think of what to tell you guys this week. It hasn't been a bad week, but it hasn't been too eventful either. I guess I'll pull out the ol' journal for some ideas...

Ooh, well, for one, last week after I e-mailed you guys my comp and I went out and hit the streets of Cajamarca with our bud Jusseff. We went to this sweet cathedral in the Plaza de Armas. Pretty rad. There's two cathedrals there, but one was closed. The one we went into was the less cool one, but it was still way pretty. Dude, I don't even care how not-Catholic I am, I seriously love Catholic cathedrals. They're way sick. That was fun, we were in there for like ten minutes. Way pretty. Then, we went to this place called Santa Apolonia which is on this hill were we get this great view of the entire city. And there are a whole places of tiny shops 'n stuff that sell all kinds of souvenirs. So, for the first time in my 21 months of being a missionary, I finally started buying some souvenirs! Didn't get too much stuff, gotta go back and buy a lot more to lug back to the US of A. I only have a few p-days left! But, that was my p-day last week. That night we had an FHE with a family, but they weren't there. So, we came back here with the Chavez family (our pensionista's fam) and had an FHE with them instead, and with Herber. Was pretty nice.

We've been focusing a lot more on visiting members lately. We've been visiting them a bunch. We had like three or four FHEs this week with members with investigators present. It’s a pretty good strat, because lots of times we go out with members to go teach lessons, but all the appointments fall through and we don't actually end up teaching anybody. But, having the lessons, or the FHEs in the members homes, and bringing investigators with us, works a whole heck of a lot better. Since we're six missionaries in our ward, and we're all focusing on visiting the members more, I think it will be a really effective way to get the members excited about missionary work and gaining their friendship and trust. I like it. It might not bring immediate results, but in the long run it will be something that will continually help this ward from here on out. So, we're planting seeds. Another important part of missionary work.

On Tuesday I went out and had a work visit with the elders in the Chontapaccha ward. They're two white boys. Elder Greene and Elder Callis. I started my mission with Elder Callis, and I've been Elder Greene's district leader in two different districts now. They're both fun. I went to the Chontapaccha area with Elder Greene and Elder Callis stayed here with my comp. Perhaps not so surprisingly, almost all of our appointments fell through. It's not just my area where that happens... But, the main purpose of the visit was to visit this guy named Edilberto who had a baptismal date for that weekend. He is way awesome. He's like 60, and recently widowed. Like three or four weeks ago one of his friends invited him to church, and he came and met the missionaries. The missionaries started teaching him and he just progressed at lightning speed. He read the entire Book of Mormon in a week and then started reading and studying Gospel Principles. We went and I met him and we taught a quick lesson on tithing. Since he'd already done so much studying on his own, he basically taught us what tithing is and accepted it without any issues. On Thursday I went to interview him for his baptismal interview. Answered all the questions way in-depth and was super ready to be baptized. On Friday my comp and I went to see him get baptized. I'm glad we showed up, because he was really happy to see me there! He was golden. He gave a super awesome testimony too.

On Wednesday out of nowhere at lunch time I just got this super sore throat and couldn't even swallow my food. It was odd, because I ate breakfast totally normal. At dinner time I was mostly better too. But at lunch time my throat was just killing me. Gosh dangit Peru why do you always make me sick?!

Fourth of July was fun. NOT! But that was the day that I interviewed Edilberto, which was cool. We had our zone training meeting that day and the assistants came up from Chiclayo with President and Sister Risso. President was pretty much only there to interview. I was hoping for some sweet mind-blowing doctrinal talk, but, nuthin'. Pretty good meeting though. That day we went to go eat lunch with a member family (the fact that I'm still alive and writing this e-mail is a blessing). Actually, it’s a family who's cooking I trust, so, no worries. But I still can't get that image out of my head from the time I went to the market in Chiclayo with Elder Perea and we were walking through the vegetable section and there were freaking rats crawling around in the food!! I do not trust the food here!!! You have no idea how many times I've eaten meals in places that would be extremely illegal to sell food in back home. I just can't wait to get home and start eating fake food again. Fake food is so good!! Anyway, the fam made us one of the few Peruvian dishes that I actually like, called "aji de gallina." Pretty tasty. It's like one of only two foods I like here. That night we had one of our FHEs with a member family who lives down the street from us, the Campos family. They're rad. Way active 'n stuff. Ex-bishop. Herber came with us and so did another rad ivestigator (who can't get baptized yet), and his two year old son. It was a pretty sweet FHE, except for when the kid peed his pants, and he wasn't wearing a diaper and it got all over his dad and the couch. Hahaha. And then as we were about to leave, he went number 2. Pretty funny.

On Friday morning we had s'more meetings. District leader training. The assistants led the meeting with the ZLs. It was pretty cool. Sister Risso pitched in a little bit too. After the meeting, I got interviewed by President Risso, which is only like the fourth time I've been interviewed by him in my entire mission, which is kind of weird. He never interviewed me while I was in the office. Prob because I saw him all the time anyway. Pretty sweet interview, 'cause Prez is the best. I really miss being around President and Sister Risso all the time.

That afternoon when we went out to go do some work and be missionaries, this guy came up to us in the street and told us that his son is a member of our church. We asked him what his son's name is, and he told us "Herber Infante." Oh! Yeah, I know that guy! I just baptized him! lolz. He went on thanking us so much because he said that since we started visitng Herber, that Herber has changed so much, and has changed for the better. He was super grateful for all that we've done for his son. Hopefully we can visit his dad one of these days too! But he enjoys his alcohol. He told us that if he doesn't drink, he can't eat. Weird.

On Saturday I headed out to Otuzco for only my third time ever with my comp and our mission leader Oscar. It’s a way pretty place. A teeny little village. Still didn't take pictures. Gotta go back and do that one of these days.

We also had a classic tracting moment on Saturday. We knocked on this one door, and this nine year old boy answers the door. We ask if his parents are home, and he said yes and went in to tell them that we were at the door. A minute or two later, he came back and told us that his mom couldn't come to the door because she was changing the baby's diaper. Elder Maldonado asked if his dad was home too. The kid said "yeah, he's here, but... they're both changing the diaper..." Hahaha. Great excuse. The people here are creative.

Yesterday was Sunday. I still really enjoy going to church in an actual church building and not some rented out Peruvian house. It is great. Pretty good day. Had another FHE with some members and investigators. 'Twas nice.

Today for p-day we went to this pretty sickawesome place called Cumbe Mayo which is like an hour or so from Cajamarca. It’s just this really pretty place that made me feel like I was in The Lord of the Rings or something... or in Zelda. DUDE, ZELDA!!!! The pics I took don't really do it justice, but I'll send them anyway. It was super cold there, but really awesome. Probably one of the better p-days I've had. I liked it. And I got to take a pic with a sheep on my shoulders. Just like... wait, what I was about to say was probably blasphemy... (Okay fine, just like Jesus.) Oh, dude, and I found Mountain Dew Code Red today. CODE RED.

"Pretty neato place."

"I'm on a rock."

"Hi, I carry sheep."

And... that was my entire week. I got some letters 'n stuff too from you guys. I don't know for how much longer you should be sending me mail. I feel like I'm gonna go home before any more letters you send get to me. I wasn't going to ever publicly announce this, because I thought it would make me way too homesick, but, considering I only have like five more Mondays to check my e-mail (wait, seriously?! Only five?!!?!) I guess I'll just say it so everyone knows: As of a while ago we're now allowed to e-mail whoever the heck we want. So, if you guys wanna start e-mailing me instead of writing letters or Dear Elders, my e-mail address is So, there ya go. I still don't promise I'll respond, but, at least I'll read it. Hehe.

Anyways, thanks for the mail. Got some Porter letters, got a letter from a good ol' friend. Wow, I can't believe that Zach is at home!! We basically started our missions at the same time!! That is SO WEIRD!!! And Porter's about to go home too. That is nuts!

Dad climbed Mt. Shasta?? That's pretty awesome. Although based on the letters I got from you guys (which are from like a month ago) all my sibs were pretty much telling me "well,  this was a pretty boring week." IT’S SUMMER VACATION, STOP BEING BORED.

And just to clear this up; Dangit Drew! I never said that the Big Carl was the best burger! I just mentioned it in one e-mail because I randomly thought of it as I was typing. It's alright, but I mostly just bought it because it was one of the cheapest bugers at Carl's Jr. My real favorite burger is the Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger. I'm seriously going to go to Carl's Jr. and eat one of those before I go to my house. Straight from the airport, to Carl's Jr. With my nametag still on an everything. Family, keep that in mind. That is a delicious burger. But if you try it and don't like it, don't make fun of me. Anyway, I'm headed back to Rexburg in September, so if you're ever around there again, maybe someday I'll see you again.

Alright family, and the rest of the people who read these. I'm done. That was my week. There is nothing else to say. I guess it was more eventful than I remembered. Thank you, journal. K, see you guys in five e-mails!!

...That is seriously so weird...

-Elder Hemz

Victor sent more pictures that you can see by clicking on the slideshow at the top of this blog...

"The chances of me dying before I get home are now 500% higher."


You know what's weird? It’s July now. That's what's weird. Hope you have a fun 4th. I sure won't! Well, I'll try to make it fun, even if there are no fireworks or hot dogs or cousins or nuthin'. Maybe I'll baptize someone.

This week was pretty good. Err... not that great. We had like no lessons this week! And we had so many appointments! One day we had nine set appointments. NINE APPOINTMENTS. I've never had nine appointments in one day!! Six fell through. Great. In this zone we also keep track of how many hours we're out proselyting each week. Elder Maldonado and I had the highest amount of hours working this week, and the least amount of lessons! I don't like it.

But, let's see what else happened this week, aside from being in the street for a ridiculously huge amount of time because we could never get into anyone's house...

On Tuesday we had our regular district and zone meetings. Being the district leader, I got to give a class. This time I taught a class on working with members. Inspired by the broadcast last Sunday. I stressed that the members need to get to know us better, and that we need to show the members more love. Pretty good class. Hope it’s something that can help us out. The prophet sure seems to think so. So I think its a safe bet that yes. Although, I've also learned that in Peru things don't work like in other parts of the world. So, we'll see.

Friday was kinda fun, because on Friday I got to eat lunch with Elder McGrath and his family! Elder McGrath was the assistant when I got to the mish. He and his companion Elder Aaroni were literally the first missionaries I met in this mission, because they picked us up from the airport! Anyway, he finished his mish over a year ago, and came back to visit with his fam. He served in this area, so he came to eat lunch with my pensionista's family. Fun times.

"Elder McGrath"

Later that night, I got a really awful cold. Still suffereing from it. Not so fun. Saturday was horrible. I was dying. Sunday was pretty bad too. Today, I'm mostly better, but I sure don't like being sick.

On Saturday in the morning we got to do some service, which I like. We helped a family move apartments. We teamed up with the zone leaders and we did it really quick. That was fun. It was a family that we've been visiting and we're trying to help out in whatever way we can. I like serving.

That night (when I was super sick) we had an FHE with one member family. One of the guys there said that the last time that I visited his family with Elder Tróchez (like three weeks ago) was the first time in a very long time that the missionaries had come to visit them. He was super thankful for that. He was almost in tears. Last night we had another FHE with another family, and the guy told us that in the year that he's lived in Cajamarca, last night was the first time the missionaries have ever come to visit his family. He also thanked us a lot for that. I guess missionary visits are something that the members here really enjoy, and really need. Gotta keep visiting them!

This week we had some more great visits with Herber. We taught about the priesthood, about temples and temple work, and about what Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price is. Now, he wants to receive the priesthood, and he wants to go to the temple, and he's more excited about reading his scriptures! But the most awesomest part is that after one of the lessons Herber told us that he wants to be a missionary like us. Because he's awesome!!

That's basically all that happened this week. Not much, honestly. We wore ourselves out walking so much. We had like 25 set appointments this week, and almost all of them fell through. And almost all of our backup plans fell through. This isn't exactly how I want to finish my mission... But, we're gonna see what we can do to change this. Finding new people would be a good start.

Read a big pile of mail this week. Some of it was really old! From when I was still in Picsi! But whatever. Grandpa Hemsley sent me a cool article about the animation program at BYU which almost made me wish I would have pursued my childhood dream of making cartoons. Oh, I got the pictures you sent too! Why the heck are my sisters and brother so big?! How is Sam so tall?! I don't like it. Stop. Jacqueline finished the New Testament? That's pretty awesome! I'm trying to finish the BoM another time before I get home. I'm in Alma. Chapter 53-ish. That's cool how mom used parts of my e-mails in her stake conference talk too. Hope you're all having a fun summer!

Oh yeah, one last piece of bad news. On Sunday, the bishop announced that starting now, every Sunday the missionaries are going to start eating lunch with the members! My heart sank as I heard that. The chances of me dying before I get home are now 500% higher.

Well, I gotta get going. I wanna buy souvenirs (something I haven't done my entire mission), but my companion doesn't want to because he thinks it’s boring because the culture here is really similar to the culture where he lives. Psh. I'll see if I can convince him to let me go buy stuff one of these Mondays.

I miss you guys a lot! I hope next week I can tell you that I had a sickness-free successful week! See ya!

-Elder Hemsley