Thursday, August 28, 2014

I Ate My First Sour Patch Package Today!

     I still do pretty much the exact same thing every day, and I've eaten rice and some part of a chicken (drumstick, breast, eggs, mystery body part) for at least two meals every single day since I've been here. Still love it though. I've also been buying lots of cookies on P day called Casinos. They're basically a Peruvian version of the Oreo and they're really cheap. I also bought a couple ties from the temple store that have llama's on them that are supposedly made from alpaca fur. Also cheap.
     Crazy story about Elder Powell though. So I was talking to another Elder in my district and he asked me if I knew a kid that went to his high school (Viewmont) that I reminded him of. The kid's last name was Thornock so I was like, I might be related to that dude. My grandma's maiden name is Thornock, and then Elder Powell was like, You're related to Thornocks? Me too! So we both whipped out our little fan charts and found out that we're both descendents of John Thornock which makes us fourth cousins! Crazy stuff! Cool though right? That's why we do family history before the mission.
     So every two weeks we have a group of missionaries that leaves, and a group of missionaries that arrive. So every two weeks we get a new group of Latino missionaries. Well the last transfer, after I'd been here two weeks, I knew enough Spanish to be able to kind of converse and I made a couple friends. Their names are Elder Martinez and Elder Vento, who are both now serving in the Bolivia La Paz mission. Anyway, Elder Vento actually spoke pretty good English, but Elder Martinez had never even heard someone speak English before his mission, except for in movies. It turned out the only English words he knew were swear words so Elder Black and I had to tell him that they were bad. After awhile he realized that he knew nothing useful in English so if he ever had a question he would come up and whisper a word in my ear to check if it was okay to say to people. It usually wasn't. The cool thing though, was that even though we could barely speak the other person's language, Elder Martinez ended becoming one of my best friends besides my companion. Elder Vento also became one of my best friends. It's awsesome having Latino friends though because it helped my Spanish a ton. Elder Black and I are working on making some new friends with this new group.
     On Saturday I got to go proselyting again, only this time I had a Latino companion who didn't speak a lick of English, and the members that came with us knew even less English than he did if that's possible. It was rough. I had no idea what he was saying most of the time because he talked super fast and he mumbled. We still became buddies though. His name is Elder Cordova. Anyways, Proselyting kinda sucked this time. Pretty much everyone we taught (mostly less active members) just made fun of me for not being able to speak Spanish, and in the middle of the lesson my companion would just stop and look at me and want me to say something but I had no idea what they were even talking about. In one house we were teaching an active member and my companion hands me a word of wisdom pamphlet and gestures for me to say something to her but I had no idea why she needed it. After each house I got a little more flustered. My companion could tell and he would just put his arm around me after I apologized to him and say "It's okay" but it was in Spanish so it was more like "esta bien." He was really nice to me the whole time so that helped. He just kept telling me that I needed to practice more. I realized though that it's not all going to be easy. It's hard when I see these beautiful children of God and I want to express to them how much I love this gospel and Jesus Christ and I just can't because I can't speak their language well enough. I know that I'm not going to learn a whole language in a month though. When I have a hard day I just like to think of it as God's way of reminding me that I have a lot more work to do so I'd better work a little harder. I really do have a whole lot more work to do, but I know that God will help me do it.
Well that's all for now. I love you all. I pray for you every day. I love the emails I get from you all when you actually send them LOL. The church is true. If you have time read Romans 8. It's one of my favorite chapters of scripture ever. The last like four or five verses are very powerful. Until next week!
Elder Tate


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Do you have anything besides Peruvian food?

     HUMP DAAAYY! As of today (at about 3 AM) I have officially been in Peru for 3 weeks, which means I'm half way done with the CCM! Sweet!
     So this week's been pretty cool. The days are kind of blending together, and when you have the exact same routine every single day with no real life investigators there aren't a lot of new things that go on. It's good though. I'm still having an absolute blast.

     Our district was asked to do a musical number on Sunday so they assigned me and Elder Powell to sing. We sang an arrangement of homeward bound that I had brought and Elder Day accompanied us. It was awesome. I'm super grateful that I have Elder Powell in my district. We're always singing something together, and he likes to beat box so he does that a lot while I sing. Without him I'd probably go crazy. He was just called as our new DL and he's going to do a great job. We had a whole knighting ceremony for him and everything. Then a couple days ago I was asked to accompany the sister missionaries this Sunday in sacrament meeting. They're singing Come Thou Fount so I made an arrangement of it yesterday that turned out pretty good. I'm loving all of the opportunities that I'm getting to play music!
      Everyone here has had lots of diarrheas this week. There was some bad food or something one day and everyone got it. I only had it for about a day. Elder Black had it for two. Yesterday there was an elder on the toilet for like six hours with it coming out both ends. You could hear him hacking from across the CCM, and he frickin sat next to me at lunch today. Hopefully I don't turn into Elder Firebum/face.
    We got to go to the Lima temple today. It's absolutely beautiful. Amazing. It's really small. The endowment rooms only holds about 25 people. They also gave us headphones with the English video soundtrack so we knew what was going on. Every once in a while I would take them off just to see how much I could understand. It wasn't very much haha. It's okay though. I know way more than I came with and it's coming poco a poco. They say that most people are fluent within 2 months after leaving the CCM so I hope that's true.
     Well That's about all that happened. My teachers are awesome. Mostly Hermano Velasquez. He always tells us awesome things about his mission that keep us excited to be here. I wrote them all down in my journal so I'll try to send you a couple because they are FREAKING CRAZY!!! Like the kinds of stories you wouldn't believe because they sound like Mormon myths but they came from someone I know and trust. They're legit.
     My district is full of a bunch of goofballs. We all are super duper close. They're a bunch of bros.
     Anyways, love you all! I pray for you every night! I miss you but Peru is cool too LOL. You're all wonderful. The church is true. Thank you for your prayers. Still loving the food even though it gave me diarrhea and kinda looks like diarrhea sometimes LOL.
Elder Tate

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Um... Excuse me. We're not Mexicans. We're from out of Town...

      I'm pretty sure that Tarzan is a lie. That part where he teaches Jane how to speak gorilla? I'm pretty sure that's all Spanish vowel sounds. A E I O U, but instead it's just U E I O U. Tyson can explain it to you guys if you don't get it.
     My district is the bomb shizzle! Seriously these guys are awesome and hilarious and it's a new adventure every day. Even though we've only known each other for two weeks we already know each other so well because we're pretty much forced to be around each other 24/7. Their names (in companionships) are Elders Powell and Whitlock, Asay (pronounced A.C.) and Bodily, Henderson and Webb, Jeffery and Day, Luster and Steele, and of course Pearce and Black. We call ourselves Cuscotopia because we're all going to Cusco! Crazy stuff. We're the only district that has everyone going to the same place. Our motto is Solo Sonrie, which means only laughing (kind of). Our night teacher Hermano Velasquez came up with it. Our theme song is Come Thou Font because we've heard that song a bunch for some reason. Elder Black and I are still getting along swimmingly.Ilast night a bunch of other Elders and I in my district buzzed our heads. It was a grand old time.
     So our district has two teachers. Hermano Ruiz in the morning, and Hermano Velasquez in the evening. I love them both. They both speak hardly any English, but somehow we still all learn from them. Hermano Velasquez is the coolest guy I've ever met. He's like 24 and he's from Lima. He's actually really tall for a Peruvian. He's like 6 feet tall. Anyways, he helped me out a lot during the first few days. Whenever I would get discouraged or impatient he would always say something super spiritual and uplifting that would make me feel better. He's so encouraging and I love it. And him. Ruiz is cool too. He's just a goofy little Peruvian from Chiclaillo. I think that's how you spell it.
     So crazy story. Here in the CCM we teach a lot of mock investigators. The teachers like have whole characters with background stories and everything and we have to get to know them and stuff. It's super fun. Each one of them has something in their life that we need to find out and help them with.  Anyways, so a couple nights ago Elder Black and I were asked to teach a new investigator on short notice. We asked what to teach and Velasquez just said, I dunno, so we decided to say a quick prayer. We started working on a lesson and we were both leaning towards the plan of salvation, but then Hermano Velasquez told us we only had five minutes. We didn't know how to teach the lesson in Spanish so we just decided to teach the first vision because we had done it before. So we go in and start talking to her and asking her questions and then ask her about her family and she tells us that her "brother" just died of Leukemia and that the Catholic church couldn't answer her question of where he was going and what was there after this life. So at that moment we decided to wing a quick lesson on the plan of salvation. Elder Black drew her a picture and I had her read Alma 28:12 and then we both just testified that we knew that God had a plan for her and that she would see her brother again, etc. It ended up being a way cool lesson and a testimony builder for the both of us that the spirit really is very much involved in our lives and that when we feel a prompting we need to have the faith to follow it. So cool stuff.
     Apparently every Sunday we have to write a talk in Spanish and in sacrament meeting they just randomly call out missionaries from the crowd to speak. Kinda scary. I just thought of that.
     So last Saturday We got to go proselyting. That was the coolest thing. It made me realize that the MTC isn't really you're mission. Well kinda but not really (like Trevor said). They paired all the beginners with advanced missionaries and then split us up into areas and we visited less active members, knocked on doors, and did street contacting. My companion and I were assigned to a pretty poor part of town. Very dirty. People just pee in the street and dump whatever they want. It's gross. It was kinda scary at first but once we got going it was awesome. The people are so friendly and anyone will listen to you. We handed out a bunch of pamphlets. Knocking on doors proved to be kind of hard because literally every single building in Lima has a metal gate around it with some sort of pointy thing on the top. The rich people have electric wires, less rich have metal spikes, and the poor people just poor cement on top of a brick wall and put shards of glass in the cement. It's pretty scary looking. Like haunted house, horror movie stuff. So it was kind of hard to get to the doors to knock on them. And a lot of the places we went were like apartment complexes so the door was like the front door to 12 other houses so no one answered. It was still fun though! We did get a few doors and we talked to a bunch of people on the street. At the less active members home their grandma wouldn't let us leave until we drank a pint of Inca Cola. All those rumors about people getting offended if you don't eat their food are so true it's ridiculous.
     The language is coming poco a poco. I just got to remember not to mix up my hombres with my hombros and hambres, and my ohos with my rohos LOL. Right now I know enough to hold small conversations with the Latinos, to explain about a pamphlet, to bear my testimony, and to pray. We learned how to pray and bear testimony on like our second and third day. Crazy shiz. I'm also to the point where I can understand probably a little more than half of what my teachers are saying, but outside of the CCM I can't really understand much. It'll come though. I've got four more weeks and I definitely know way more than what I came with. There's one elder in our district that is struggling a little with the language and was getting really frustrated with himself and getting kinda depressed. The other night he asked me to give him a blessing. I wasn't really sure why he asked me in particular but I was honored to do it. It was cool to feel the spirit giving me words to say in that blessing. It was a neat experience.
     I've had a few opportunities to play the piano since I've been here. In the CCM they only want us to play hymns, but when we went proselyting and were waiting in a church for our assignments one of our instructors let me play whatever I wanted on the piano. He was loving it and kept asking me to play fast songs and stuff. I told all the missionaries in my district (and a few other missionaries) that I would play at their weddings. I'm pretty sure Elder Powell is going to get married like a month after his mission. Elder Powell and I sing together a lot. He did a bunch of theater and choir and stuff in high school. One day we sang You Raise Me Up while Elder Black and Elder Bodily did an interpretive dance. It was hilarious.
     Well that's all for now. I love you all. Keep me posted with all the junk going on at home! The church is true! I hope Jake knows how lucky Atlanta is! I'm excited for the rest of the crew to get out there! And good luck with the new baby coming up pretty soon! I pray for you all every night. Keep it real. Until next time.
Elder Tate

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hola from Peru!

     Wow what a crazy week! Please excuse my writing. This keyboard is going to take some getting used to. I'll do my best though!
     Okay, so before I get into answering all your questions that I was totally already planning on writing about anyway, I have a crazygonuts story! So whle I was in the SLC airport security line the guy standing behind me struck up a conversation. He could tell I was a missionary (we kind of stick out) so he asked where I was off to. I told him I was going to Peru, etc. and he told me he had a couple kids on missions, etc. and that he had served a mission in Italy. That's when I said, "Oh cool, my best friend's dad served in Italy," and he was like, "what's his name?" and I'm thinking to myself no way this guy knows Isaac's dad. So I said, Oh you probably wouldn't know him. His name is Rod Willyerd. Then the dude was like "Rod Willyerd? He was my MTC companion!" (insert mind explosion here) I totally met Isaac's dad's MTC companion in the security line at the SLC airport! Whaaaaat! It's crazy what a small world we live in. Everyone here seems to have some sort of connection to someone else. Trevor's seminary student, Elder Day is in my district LOL.
     So I guess that according to mom's very first email that she sent me that you all know that my flights were both delayed. But what you DON'T know is that the first one broke down halfway down the runway... or something like that. We don't really know what happened. It started speeding down the runway and then the pilot slammed on the brakes all quick like and then we sat in the plane for an hour and a half (I took a nap) until they made us get off and reassigned our flights. That made our 5 hour layover in LA a 1 and a half hour layover which was pretty okay. After security I ended up meeting 5 other missionaries in Salt Lake and 2 more in La so there was 8 of us flying to Peru together (duh). Almost all of the Elders I flew with are in my district which is pretty crazy because my district only has 12 Elders. No Hermanas. When we were in LA our flight got delayed a little bit too but they wouldn't tell us why. We all boarded and then they made us get off for like 10 minutes and the let us get back on. It was lame. We arrived to the CCM (Spanish letters for MTC) at about 3 in the morning on Wednesday. They let us sleep in until 7 30 so that was cool I guess. It was weird though because no one really told us what to do. We just showed up and they gave us our room assignments and then we went to bed. No orientation or anything. I didn't meet the CCM Pres. or my companion until the next day. There were 2 other companionships sleeping in my room when I got there. They left a note saying not to turn on the lights or wake them up so I didn't get to unpack or make my bed or anything. I just found a pillow, my extra jammies from my travel bag, brushed my teeth and went to bed. They didn't really tell me much the next morning either. My companion had gotten there at about 2 so he was already asleep when I got there.
     My companion's name is Elder Black, and he is an absolute staunch. I love him to death. He's from Gilbert Arizona. He's pretty much a body builder but he's like 5 feet 8 inches. We get along really well and we both are here to do work. The other Elders in our room are nice too. They're weird but nice. There are only about 150 people here at the CCM so everyone can get a chance to know each other. It's pretty sweet.
     The food here is fantastic. I love and at least sort of recognize almost all of it. Breakfast usually consists of eggs, toast, some sort of weird drink in a mug that changes every day (some of them are yucky but mostly it's not bad) bread with cheese, juice, and cereal in yogurt. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. It's usually similar to dinner but just with bigger portions. These meals consist of rice (every day without fail), chicken or beef, some sort of dessert like jello, cake, or whatever else they can come up with, veggies, and juice. We get potatoes pretty often too. The juice here is great. It's usually apple, mango (If you're early) cantelope, pineapple or passion fruit. My stomach is doing fine.
     Life in the CCM is a little monotonous but it's good. We pretty much just sit in the classroom all day until we eat. Then we go back to the classroom. We have an hour for exercise from 3 to 4 where we can work out, play soccer, volley ball, ping pong, run, etc. It's a good time and everyone here knows how to have a good time. We have devotionals and stuff pretty often. Yesterday we had Elder Wadell, who I think is an area 70, speak to us and boy oh boy was it good. We do some sort of language study every day (duh) and lots of time for personal and companion study. It's crazy when I look back and realize how much I've already learned in one week. It seems to me that the Peruvian accent is similar to an Argentine accent but a little softer with more of a y sound than a sh sound on a double l. I'm not fluent or anything but I can see that it will come. On the first day we had a four hour crash course in Spanish and I was super frustrated and overwhelmed because they just kind of acted like I was already supposed to know how to conjugate verbs and stuff, but I just tried to remember the blessing Pres.Taylor gave me and how he said I need to be patient. It will come. I just need to remember to be patient and that the language will come in the Lord's time. I've realized that the gift of tongues isn't just being able to all of a sudden speak a language (at least not always'). It's being able to learn the language with the spirit right by your side every step of the way. To be able to learn without other things clogging up your mind, and it's awesome.
     I've been able to leave the CCM twice. Driving here is just like driving in Guatemala. My life flashes before my eyes every time. It's a riot though. I love the city of Lima and I can't wait to see Cusco. Lima is huge! It has 30 districts with 9 million people total. The weather is a lot like the weather in the Guatemala highlands. Lots of clouds with mild rain every day but the temperature isn't too cold. Lot's of the natives have been telling me that Cusco is really cold though....
    Church on Sunday was way cool. Everyone has to bear their testimony in Spanish so I didn't go. All I know how to say so far is a very simple testimony but I'll do it next month! We had a good Sunday school lesson, too, that was in English.
Well that's all for now because my time is running short. I love you all and I'll try to send some pictures next week! I am trying my hardest to be exactly 100 percent obedient. I'm having a blast.
     Please don't worry about me. I hope you are all doing well. I love you all! Yo se que La Iglasia de Jesucristo De los Santos de los Ultimos dias es verdadero.
                  Elder Tate.
 P.S. Oh and neither of my teachers speak English so that's fun. Good guys though. I'll tell you more about them another time.

*Another missionary mom posted this of her son on FB and Tate was in it. Happy day!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Happy Landing

We arrived at the airport at 5:00 am to check Tate in for his flight. It was a strange feeling dropping him off at the airport all by himself instead of in Provo where you safely drop them off curbside with hundreds of other missionaries where an "experienced" missionary takes them in to welcome them and show them the ropes. They are never really alone.

At the airport they are pretty much on their own to manage through security, find their plane, handle customs, etc. Luckily, we met two other elders at the airport that were also heading to Lima, so we were a little relieved knowing he wasn't alone and that they would figure it all out together. I didn't like the fact that he was whisked away into the security line and I was only able to give him a quick hug. Maybe it was better that way in the long run, but I had to hold back with all my might to not run through security to give him one last hug!  Tate kept looking back to see if we were still there and waving. He was happy and determined, but I could see a little fear in his face. Two years is a long time to be away from family, friends, facebook, texting, girls, etc. It takes a lot of faith to leave everything you know and everyone you love and go to a strange land to preach the Gospel in a new and unfamiliar language. It takes a HUGE amount of courage.

I found a flight tracker online and followed his flight from LA to Peru until I knew it had safely landed. I think they invented flight tracker apps just for missionary moms!  I had a hard time concentrating and paid for it the next day with the amount of homework I had to do!! Luckily, my professor extended the deadline and I had a couple of extra days to complete it. Tender mercies for sure!

I heard later in the day that his adventure started off with a bang! His flight from Salt Lake to Los Angeles was cancelled. Luckily they had a 6 hour layover in LA, so they had plenty of time to get to their plane headed to Lima. He arrived safely around 1:20 am the next day. I'm sure it was long and exhausting, but he is there at last.

He was allowed 2 minutes to send us an email to let us know that he was still alive and in Peru! Here is his email:


Hola from the MTC! I only get a couple minutes today. My P day will be next Wednesday. I   will get an hour to write and read your email. This keyboard is weird. Food is great. My companion is the shiz. Love you all.


I will use this blog to post his emails each week. If you are interested in reading them, just subscribe on the "follow by email" link on the right by inputting your email address and hitting the submit button. You will automatically receive the updates in your email in-box.

Let the adventures begin!!