Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sept. 27, 2010
Hey family,
Sounds like everything is going well at home. It sounds like Megan and Trevor are in for a lot of changes and all of the kids are going to have to find some new friends in the ward. I'm excited for Megan's opportunity to go to Utah State next year, altough its kind of frustrating that my little sister will be as far as me in school when I get back. The yard sounds pretty crazy right now. With all the hornets it seems like the kids will be diving down into the water to avoid the bees alot more now. One note for mom. Hermana Whetton from the CCM (wife of the mission president), said that I should thank you for making me practice piano all those years, and she is thankful for you making me practice.

Here in Peru, there is some pretty crazy stuff happening right now. First, is awesome: I have had the wonderful opportunity of walking head on into a few baptisms. Yesterday we had a baptism for a man named Anibal. I have only briefly met him, but he seems really great, and his family is awesome. Yesterday we also got 2 commitments for baptisms on October 23rd. David and Jose are these two baptisms. Both are the only non-members in their family cureently so its great because their entire families will be members now, and they will be that much closer to being an eternal family. David is incredible. He has actually been an investigator for 7 years now, so its great that he is finally getting to the waters of baptism. David's family fed us last night, and so I got to know them a little bit more. They were incredible and they had an amazing spirit in their home.

Our second is rather interesting: This Sunday is the day of the elections here in Peru which means a few things are going to be happening. First our P-Day is Saturday and Monday. My email will be on Monday, but the rest will be Saturday. This is because in Peru it its illegal to have any gatherings of any kind on Saturday for the elections Sunday, so we are not allowed to meet with any families. This also means that none of the members can go watch conference this Saturday, and on Sunday we don't have church. The General Conference broadcast will be shown on the 9th and 10th, the following Saturday and Sunday. And then we have stake conference on the 30th and 31st. So this month we only have church on two of the five Sundays. It also throws off our schedules just a little bit.

The third is kind of frightening: In my area there are multiple places we can't go at night without a member, and certain places we can't go at all because they are dangerous. We also have had the awesome opportunity to have rocks thrown at us. My first day some teenager threw a rock at me. He missed, but it was an interesting thing to be welcomed with. We also had a rock thrown at our window a few nights ago, so now we have a window to fix. We also see lots of drunk people a lot here. It's pretty crazy.

Back to our investigators...
We have a few other noteworthy investigators right now. One is Fernando. He is 17 and has a desire to be baptized, but we don't have permission from his parents, so right now we are kind of at a stand still with him. We keep meeting with him, and we have talked to him about prayer and fasting for permission from his family, and hopefully that will lead somewhere for him. Our other major investigators are the Fernandez family, especially 2 of their daughters, Leidy (pronounced Lady) and Tania. Leidy is 15 and is really close to baptism. We hope to have a date set for her by the endo of this week. She has a great spirit. She just isn't sure if she is ready yet. Tania is 21 and she seems ready for baptism as well and she wants to be baptized, but firest she has to get married to her "husband". They are planning on getting married in the end of October, so we will have to wait until then to se a baptism date, but the desire is definitely there.

I think a little explanation is important now. Here in Peru there is a major problem for missionaries. In Peru it costs 150 soles to become married legally and many people don't have that money or don't want to pay that money so it provides an interesting situation. Many people here become married in all be legality. They love each other, they live together, they take care of kids together, and they even use the term "esposo" for their relationship. (Esposo is husband, esposa is wife) The problem is they are not legally married so they are breaking the law of chastity and they can't be baptized. Many of these people are very good people, but the culture here is just different. It is not looked on as harshly by members if people aren't married because outside of the church, very few people are married. David is one of these examples. He just barely got married Saturday, but he and his wife had been living together for years, and they have a teenage daughter. They were not living together before their official marriage for a while because his wife had been baptized, but now they call all be baptized. This is a common situation that we will have to deal with a lot here.

Quick list of other investigators I may talk about later.
Angelica (45ish) - has a son on a mission, has been an investigator for a long time. Doesn't want to get baptized yet.
Carmen (50ish) - Husband is Anibal. Just getting started with her.
Grecia (9) - was baptized but not confirmed and now too much time has passed and she needs to be baptized again. Her mom is inactive and her grandma is active, but we have a hard time meeting with her because her mom is seldom home, and her grandma lives in another area.
Arturo and Florencia (Not sure on ages) - Parents of David's wife Dora. I haven't met them yet. Don't really know the situation.
Juan and Rebecca (40's) - Another case of not being married officially. Only met once, and didn't keep the commitment to come to church.
Angel y Juana (76 and 73) - New investigators who we have an appointment with in a few days, they were excited about learning.
Jose (50) - New investigator.
Well, I'm glad everything is going well, minus the bees, and hope everything continues to go well. I love you all. Good luck with the changes.


Friday, September 24, 2010

September 23, 2010

Hola familia,
I am finally in the field and it is a whole lot of crazy and I'm not sure what else. Over last week a few things happened. On Saturday was the day that we had the opportunity to go proselyting again. Elder Purvis and I were actually paired up with our teacher named Hermano Huerta. He made it a lot easier for us. We contacted 8 people and were able to teach one family a lesson. We got 3 references for the missionaries in the area and the one family we taught, who is inactive, said that they would go to church. Not being the missionaries, we couldn't follow up, but it was still a great thing.
Tuesday, I went into the field. We did a lot of things on Tuesday including having our entrance interviews with President Tyler. President Tyler is so cool, and was really kind and helpful to the missionaries. After that we went to the change meeting. It is interesting that because of the size of our mission, the entire mission meets every six weeks for the changes. We had 120 missionaries there waiting to welcome the 11 of us that were new to the mission.
My companion is Elder Kasat. He is from Santiago, Chile. He is extremely helpful and very patient with my poor Spanish. The opportunity to be serving with his is incredible. My sector is called the Porvenir sector, and it is the area for one of the wards here in Lima. My zone is the San Luis stake. My sector is actually new as of 3 months ago to the Central mission. The new mission boundries in Peru officially took affect in the beginning of July, and my area was in the Lima south mission before the change. The last two days have been crazy overalll and they have been very stressful for me. we are teaching a bunch of people, and i am never sure who is progressing and who isn't because of the language barrier. It's okay though, because it is slowly coming over time.
Here we have what are called Pensions. Which means that we never make our own food. We just walk over to someone's house and they feed us. I will try and send pictures to you as soon as possible, but I'm not sure how well tht will work. we also don't do our own laundry. This makes it interesting because I have to make a list of all the clothes I have that need to be washed so that I can get it all back. My room has a cement floor and the building looks pretty cool.
Things sound pretty interesting at home. I'm glad Megan and Trevor are having some fun with their band. I know that everything will work out with the new ward. The Bishop sounds cool, and it sounds like the area will be pretty good. And even though they aren't in the same ward, I bet the kids can stay in touch with their friends pretty well.
I love you all. And hope everything goes well with the new ward. I actually have P-day on Mondays now, I just had some time I was allowed to email today since I missed P-day this week. So expect another email in 5 days. The work is moving forward and I know that it is important.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September 15, 2010

Dear family,
It's amazing how time flies by when you are busy with a good cause. The mission is blowing by and I'm again at that point of being super nervous about the future part of my mission, but I know that everything is going to turn out great. It has so far. I'm glad to hear that Utah State won, even if it was against a pretty week school like Idaho State. This year should be pretty interesting for them. Its great the soccer is going well for Alex, Adam and Trent. Im going to have to say though, that when I get back and Alex is a superstar on the High School soccer team that I'll have to give him a run for his money. We play a lot of soccer here in the CCM in Peru. It's actually making it pretty hard on my shoes. After only 8 weeks they are already falling apart, but I will make them last my whole mission, even if I am holding them together with scotch tape by the end. (I would say duct tape, but they may not have that here. They don't have super glue, which is really disappointing.) Sounds like Clarksburg is doing pretty well this year so far in sports as well. Im glad the ward is doing well right now too.

This last week was actually pretty uneventful overall in the CCM. A lot of classes. A lot of practicing. My journal entries are all like 3 lines long. Its been one of those weeks for the most part. There were a few interesting things though. On Thursday I read in Alma about the 2000 sons of Helaman. I was amazed by their incredible obedience to the Lord and their incredible trust in the Lord. In Alma 57:25-27 it talks about their faith, and in 27 it sums it up. I really like this verse. It says:
"Now this was the faith of those of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in god continually."
This is a ton of power and I really felt the spirit reading it. I also like Alma 48:17 when it talks about the amazing power of Captain Moroni.
Friday I had a pretty humbling experience... Elder Purvis and I had a TRC lesson and it went horribly. Elder Purvis was feeling really sick, and I was having a really hard time understanding the Spanish. The teacher pretending to be an investigator was bored, and frustrated because we weren't answering her questions. It was really difficult. I learned a lot from the experience though and it changed how I am going to study now.
Saturday was the day that we got to go proselyting again. Elder Purvis and I went out to an area in the Peru Lima North mission which was pretty cool because it was Elder Purvis' mission. The area was called Las Flores and it was ok housing, but not great. Definitely better than the people living Callao though. This one was tough because we were two North Americans without a Latin companion to help us with the lessons. We were paired up with the Elder's Quorum president of the ward and sent to some inactive members homes. I think we frustrated him a little because at the beginning he kept knocking on the door and stepping back to make us do all the talking, and I think it was kind of rough at the beginning. elder Purvis was trying to talk, and I was going through shock. I think I spent the entire first 4 houses with my jaw on the ground because I was so intimidated. We wound up only getting to teach one person on the entire trip because the others either were at work, weren't at home, or gave their children excuses for why they wouldn't come to the door. The one inactive member we taught had a little shop he was running out of his house, and his house was pretty nice considering the surroundings. We talked to him about the Priesthood and the power of the Priesthood. I learned something from this lesson as well. I learned that I need to follow the Spirit more.
I thought he was an active member and we were talking to him because we had extra time and he was preparing for a trip to the temple, but it turns out he was inactive. I had a feeling to bring up that he needed to go to church to allow his Priesthood to help those in his home, but I just pushed it aside because I thought he was a member. Even though this happened, the spirit was incredibly strong and I we left him with the Spirit in his home. I felt it and I know that he felt it. He gave the closing prayer and I think he understood the importance of the church.
It's really tough to gain a real understanding of Spanish here in the MTC even though I'm in Peru. The teachers and the Latin missionaries all talk slower to us to help us understand and because of the amount of North Americans in the CCM, I have a class and a companion of all North Americans which means I can speak English a lot and get away with it. I think that's why the opportunity to proselyte is so good here. It allows us to go into the real world and experience the people with really quiet voices, the people who slur because they are missing most of their teeth and the people who just talk really fast. This allows me to train my brain a little more in Spanish. We get tons of encouragement about the language though. Elder Slingerland is the Area medical advisor and he also acts as a member of the Branch Presidency at the CCM. He has used a few times the idea that in 6 months we will be fluent, 8-10 we will be super fluent and by a year or a little more we will be thinking in Spanish. Its tough to believe that now, but I know it will happen with the Lord's help. I love how the prophets talk about this in the scriptures. Nephi says it in 2 Nephi 4:20 when he says: "My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness: and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep."
I also like when Ammon says this as well in Alma 26:12.
"Yea, I know that i am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."
This has been so helpful to me over these past 9 weeks. When I have felt an sort of inadequacy, I have been able to lean on Christ as my strength. My Savior has guided me so much. I think this is why I have been so engrossed in the scriptures. I told you last week that I have been reading a lot in the scriptures lately. Well now I am in Ether and I plan on finishing tomorrow or Friday. The power of the scriptures, even when I have been reading them in English, have helped me in my lessons as I use them more and more.
I am glad that everything is going well at home, and I hope that you are all doing well. For the boys, continue to prepare for your missions. It can be the greatest experience of your life if you put the effort in to it. Mine has already been incredible and I am still in the MTC. For Megan, keep being awesome and studying in the gospel. It will bless you life so much, even if you don't serve a mission when you are 21. I love you all.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 8, 2010

It's awesome that you got to invite the new family over to the house. I'm excited that the kids are going to get more people to hang out with their age that have good moral standards. I'm also glad to know that USU is actually looking pretty good at football. They had better be bowl winners by the time I get back from my mission. It's cool that Alex and Trevor both read the Book of Mormon in 26 days. I am loving reading the Book of Mormon really fast. I have been using most of my personal study time and all of my extra free time to finish the Book of Mormon in english as fast as possible. I am learning a ton from it, and it is cool to see all the storiest connect better than when you only read a few pages a night. I am actually reading 30 pages or so every day, minus Sundays when I'm busy with my Zone Leader duties and Wednesdays which are P-days.

On Wednesday last week we got to go into Miraflores in central Lima. It was really cool because it was part of my mission. It is also where the Peru version of the White House is. The main difference is that security in this area is incredibly tight. Because of the political unrest that has been prevalent even in the recent history of Peru they don't take any risks. There are officers with riot shields and AK-47's all around the main building and there were multiple guard dogs in the area. They also have tons of tourists in the area. I also went to a small marketplace and got three pretty cool things. A bag, a beanie which I am saving for when I get home and a Peru soccer jersey. In total it cost me 33 soles which is about 12 dollars.

The rest of the week was pretty slow because we didn't have proselyting on Saturday. I got to stay up late until 1:30 in the morning on Wednesday night to welcome new missionaries flying in from Provo. I actually ran into Isaac Bell who went to elementary school with me. He's in the CCM right now. He was one of the new group of missionaries.

My spiritual experiences were pretty good this week. We were studying for a topic, I don't even know what it is now. But Elder Purvis and I came across Mormon chapter 7. Mormon chapter 7 is basically Mormon's final testimony. It is awesome. In the last four or five verses he talks about judgment, baptism, and the Book of Mormon as another witness of Jesus Christ. It is incredible, and we think we will be able to use it for investigators on our mission. On Sunday we had a fast and testimony meeting and I bore my testimony, which was pretty cool. I also translated a temple orientation with Elder Purvis on Sunday. It was really tough, but I was surprised with how much I knew. I was able to translate a bunch of quotes and articles. It was a definite spiritual experience for me. I also came across a scripture in D&C 76:114-119. This talked about the kingdoms of glory and how we can all receive a witness of them through the Holy Ghost. Also in the introduction for verses 114-119 it says that all the faithful may see the vision of the degrees of glory. That would a great thing to see, and I hope to be faithful enough in my life to be able to see them. I think it's great that all the faithful can see visions like these. I love you all. Have another great week.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

There have been a lot of changes at the CCM in the last little while,
and it is going to be an interesting and tough next three weeks, but
things are still going well. Im glad to hear that Adam and Alex got
to go on the varsity scout activity and that Trevor has another palm.
They definitely seem more devoted to scouting than I was. Its cool
that the ward is expanding so much and that there are good families
moving in. Everything seems to be going pretty well in Maryland. In
Peru it is finally starting to become less depressing overall. Here
the weather during the winter, although its not freezing is pretty
disheartening. Because of the pollution in Lima and because of the
fog that comes off of the ocean, there isn´t very much blue sky here.
But we are starting to see more blue sky and now there is actually
starting to be clouds and not just a layer of gray. The temperature
has always been comfortable, but a little chilly. Now it is starting
to warm up which is great.
The last week has been pretty good. I have begun to attack the Book
of Mormon and the Bible in english in my personal study time. I have
read from early 2 Nephi into the latter half of Mosiah in the last
week or so. With the exception of Sunday when we are busy and Tuesday
when I had to go to immigrations so I didn´t have personal study, I
have read from 15 to 20 pages in the Book of Mormon and 10 in the
Bible. I have had extra time because my companion has not been here
during companionship study. He has been at immigrations and interpol
and things like that to prepare to go to Mexico. On Saturday we went
proselyting again, and Elder Alvarez and I were in Callao again. We
knocked on 3 doors of inactive members. 1 wasn´t home and the other 2
let us in. I find it interesting, because I doubt we would get in as
many doors in the United States or in any richer areas in the world.
We also went to a recently baptized members house and bore our
testimonies to her. I didn´t understand a word in the entire first
visit, but the Spirit was definitely there.
I don´t know if I have mentioned this before, but there are a ton of
dogs here. They are all over in the streets in Callao and they just
sit around and don´t do much usually. On Saturday there was a little
more action with the dogs. One of the members we were with decided
she wanted to pet a dog, and it wound up that we had for or five dogs
barking at us and moving closer to us. Then one of the other 2
members started to swing his scripture case at them and they started
to back off. He then picked up some rocks as we walked away to make
sure that they didn´t follow us and attack us. Later I saw about 12
dogs start to fight each other. Pretty cool to see... From pretty far
away. I was a little nervous that they would come closer to us.
On Sunday we wrote letters to the MTC President and it made me think a
lot about what I had read in my scriptures. I thought about Mosiah
chapter 3 and King Benjamin´s speech. It was so amazing. I
especially focused on verses 16 and 17. In 16 it talks about man
being fallen by nature through the fall of Adam. And because we don´t
believe in natural sin and babies needing to be baptized I had never
thought about us as fallen when we are born. But then I thought about
it a little bit. We are fallen in one sense that I know of. We have
left the presence of God. Thats a pretty steep fall. Even if it is
for a good purpose in the end, we are cut off from his presense when
we go through the veil. I also like that verse 16 says that little
children are saved in Christ. How great a feeling to know that
children who don´t understand who die are going to be saved through
the Atonement. Although I don´t personally know anyone who has died
before they were 8, it still brings me comfort. I can´t imagine how
much comfort that would bring to people who have lost young children
in their lives. I also liked verse 17 where it talks about Christ and
says that through Christ is the only way we can return to live with
our Heavenly Father.
On Sunday we also watched the Joseph Smith movie. I am amazed by the
power of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and all who gave up their lives for
the church. These are people who trusted in the Lord and became
martyrs because of their faith. It made me think about myself...
Would I be willing to give my life for the church? I definitely don´t
know. I am giving 2 years of my life to serve a mission, but that is
a whole lot different than dying for the gospel, and I know that the
Lord will bless me for my mission. I am also not leaving an entire
family to fend for themselves because of my mission. Joseph Smith and
Hyrum Smith both left families that had to continue on their own. I
decided that I would like to think that I would give my life for the
gospel, but in the moment would be a whole different story. Joseph
and Hyrum had so much conviction and I hope that I can have that some
kind of conviction in my life. The movie reminded me of the talk that
Jeffrey R. Holland gave about the early leaders of the church. If you
haven´t heard or don´t remember that talk it is definitely worth
watching again. You can find it on It is so powerful about
the Book of Mormon and the early prophets. I think it is called a
witness to the Book of Mormon. You can definitely also find it on
Youtube. And it may be easier on Youtube. I think that the pioneers
were incredibly strong in their faith and in my opinion, every member
who died because of mobs or sickness in their treks between Ohio and
Utah are martyrs. They died trying to follow the prophet and be
strong in their faith. They died for the gospel. They are all
martyrs in my book. I will always remember their example and the
example of Joseph and Hyrum as well as the talk by Elder Holland. And
I will continue to learn and trust in the Lord because as Nephi says
in 2 Nephi Chapter 4. "I know in whom I have trusted. My God has been
my support.
Monday was interesting because as we have been preparing to get new
teachers, districts and companions one of my teachers asked me to
write the words for "Be Still My Soul" down in English for her as well
as writing how you would say the word with Spanish letters. For
example Be still my soul is something like "Bi still may sol" It is
weird because there isn´t a way to write it in Spanish for every
english sound. It definitely helped my spanish though.
Tuesday was interesting as well. I changed districts, but we kept my
entire district intact minus the loss of the one sister missionary we
had. We just added other missionaries. Here it is a little
different. Because North Americans and Latins have different class
work because they don´t need to learn the language. My companion was
in a different district than me so our 12 missionaries in our
district, 106, were companions with the 12 missionaries in District
105. Now its all english missionary companionships so my companion is
in my district. We also had an interesting experience with
missionaries leaving. They needed more room for more missionaries so
8 missionaries from my group were asked to leave 3 weeks early and go
into the field. Because of this we lost 3 missionaries from our
english district all of whom went to the Lima Central mission. One
was our district leader, so we didn´t have a district leader for about
a week and a half. Elder Purvis one of the elders in our district
filled in for him. Elder Purvis also happens to be my new companion.
He is from American Fork, Utah and went to Snow College for the last
year before his mission. He is awesome and it should go well.
The most interesting change yesterday was the fact that I was assigned
to be a Zone Leader in the CCM for the next 3 weeks. I am one of 4
North American Zone Leaders and their will be 2 Latino Zone Leaders
once the Latino missionaries get here. The Zone Leaders were assigned
off of recomendations by the previous Zone Leaders. The other 3 Zone
Leaders: Elder Jensen from Salt Lake, Elder Huddleston from Louisiana
and Elder Angerbaur from Bountiful were all district leaders before so
they know a little bit more about whats going on than I do. Its going
to be great though. I think it may have just been the 4 district
leaders from before had my district leader not left early. I think I
was probably called because I got to know 2 of the Zone Leaders really
well and I played the piano for them a lot. It is pretty interesting.
I need to go now, but I love you all, good luck with the beginning of