Monday, February 23, 2015

Lots and Lots of Rain

Do you have to give us a news flash every time your body does something?

Today is changes. I didn't get an email like I'm supposed to so that's a little annoying. The missionary portal still says my companion is Elder Rodriguez so I'm assuming that means we don't have changes. This will be his fourth change here in Alborada. It'll probably also be his last. It's been a hard transfer but he and I get along so at least there's that. He doesn't like it if I ever offer suggestions on how to improve though. Yesterday my pensionista told me that he's changed a lot since he's been with me. I asked her how, and she told me that the last two changes with his other companion they would sit in her restaurant where we eat lunch pretty much the entire day. They hardly ever worked. She told me he's improved a lot this change. That was a really good thing for me to hear. I realized that what was slow working and a little laziness for me was a lot of work and progress for him. It helped me understand a little more. We'll see how this next change goes. Step by step.

So we did indeed have a baptismal service on Saturday for Maribel. It was very special. I was given the honor of performing the ordinance. Our bishop blessed her with the gift of the Holy Ghost in church yesterday, and my companion and I participated. It was wonderful. She is so cool. She has so much excitement about the gospel and has so much desire to share it and to learn more. She's awesome.

We're not going to have that other baptism this Saturday like we thought. Our investigator left town so we need a little more time to work with her. We're hoping for the next couple weeks. We also started working with an 18 year-old named Wilmur. His brother is a returned missionary, and Wilmur is basically a member, but he just hasn't been baptized yet. We're going to work hard with him and try to put a date for March.

So the past couple weeks I've been carrying a deck of cards with me. It started because my dinner pension's daughter had a deck of cards and I did a magic trick for her that she LOVED, and still makes me do it for her almost daily, so I thought I could carry some cards around to do for little kids and street contacts and stuff. As I was doing this, I realized that I could totally use it to teach. So I started using the trick in lessons, and this week I perfected it. So the trick works like this (it's the one Trevor taught me when I was like 12):Someone draws a card (which I already know) and then puts it back in the deck. Then I find it and put it in a special spot without them seeing. I show them a bunch of cards that aren't theirs, and sneakily put their card in with the other ones. After a few we do the same thing with the same cards that weren't theirs (only their card is inside). I tell them both times that their card is within the others, and I even show my companion who tells them, and they tell me that I'm crazy and they don't believe me. Then I have them make a fist and I put the cards between two of their fingers and hit all of them out except the one that's theirs. I then tell them that the whole time I knew where their card was and was telling them that it was there, and they still didn't believe me or my companion. Our life is the same. We pass through trials and the whole time God knows where our "card" is, even though we can't see it. He even tells us through revelation and through our prophets that it's there, and still we don't believe him just because we can't see it. Then, after he's made us strong by allowing us to experience trials, he lets us see it, and we realize that it really was there the whole time. That's kind of a watered-down version, and I do a couple other things as well, but you get the idea.

Story of the week: So the other day my companion and I were heading home after dinner (around 9:15 ish) and this drunk guy (everyone was drunk this week because of Carnaval) sees us and yells "ELDER!" so we went over to shake his hand and make a hurried exit. When I shook his hand he holds on and says, "Elder, I know you!" I was just thinking he was confusing me with another Gringo from around here cause he's toasted, but then he went on to say stuff like I came to his house and prayed with him, he would never forget what I did for him, what I said changed his life, etc. Long story short, he tells us that his wife left him for another guy and he was ready to kill himself, but I came to him (without my companion) and calmed him down so he didn't kill himself and then prayed with him. Oh, and this happened last week apparently. Kinda weird, I don't really know what's going on with him, he was sloppy drunk. We invited him to an activity at the church the next day and wrote it down so he wouldn't forget. He didn't come which was sad but not really surprising. He was wasted. I do have his address though so I wanna go to his house and find out what's up. He kept telling me "I trust you elder Pearce!" and stuff like that. Maybe he was just hammered, or maybe there was an angel protecting him. I dunno. We'll see.

I'm starting to get my lunch pension to like me a lot more. I bought a pizza for her family and after that things seem to have changed. She's a lot more friendly and she and her husband have even taken us out to eat a couple times, which they had never done previously. So basically I win.

Well that's all for now. I love you all and am aware of your needs. Love you all! Peace and blessings!

Elder Tate

Monday, February 16, 2015

February 26, 2015

What did she call me?
Handsome, but she spelled it wrong.

I accidentally left my little paper with stuff to write in the apartment so hopefully I remember stuff without it.

This week was rather uneventful for the most part, but I have a couple cool announcements. They both involve the word BAPTIZE! Yeah we have two baptisms planned for the next two weeks. This week is a lady named Maribel. She's a reference from a couple sister missionaries we received about two weeks ago. She had been attending their ward, but she actually lives within our boundaries so they passed her on over to us. She's about as golden as you could get. The first time we met with her we asked her what she had learned about the church so far (she had attended twice up until this point. To be baptized you have to attend thrice). She told us something along the lines of, "Well it's a true church that's very beautiful and I only have to attend one more time to be baptized!"  She's awesome. We've taught her all the lessons and she didn't have a single problem with any of the commandments or anything. Most of the commandments, like the word of wisdom, she was already living so it wasn't that big of a leap. She had her baptism interview yesterday and passed so we're full steam ahead for Saturday!

The other one is a lady named Cecilia. I believe last week I told you the story of the promise I gave her and how she told my companion that she was ready. WELL, this Tuesday we had divisions with our district leader so I was with him in a different sector for a day, and while I was gone they placed a date for her and she accepted! She is preparing to be baptized on the 28th of February. 

We haven't really seen a whole lot of other progress this week with our other investigators. We are, however, seeing some progress with a few of our less active members so there will be more to come on that. 

I went on exchanges with our district leader, Elder Graham this week. He's from Canada. He's cool and we get along fine. Not a lot really happened other than I got to speak English all day which was fun.

As far as the language goes, it's going good. I've still got a lot to learn but I'm not uncomfortable with it anymore. A little while back a lady in our ward told me that my accent sounds very educated, which was cool cause I used to be worried about sounding like a third grader when I talk. People tell me that I speak very well and that my accent is very small. I'll probably always have a little bit of an accent but I'm okay with that. They think it's cool. I've realized what a blessing it has been to be in places where no one speaks English because it's helped me learn so much faster and so much better. I was thinking yesterday what it would be like to go a whole day without speaking Spanish and it seemed like a weird idea to me. I have been very blessed here.

Well I don't really remember if anything else happened this week that's worth mentioning. Carnaval started this week so that should be an adventure. I'll tell you all about it next week. Love you all! Peace and blessings! Remember that God knows best, and even while we're suffering he's blessing us. 

Elder Tate

Monday, February 9, 2015

Big Person in Little Peru

Hey! Those ninjas are stealing that old man´s diamonds!
This weeks been a lot better than the last. My companion and I had a couple talks last Monday after internet and things are improving. I've just decided to fix the things that I need to fix personally so that I feel better about myself. It's helping.
So I don't remember if I ever said thank you for all the birthday cards that y'all sent me. So If I didn't, THANK YOU. They were all awesome. I haven't gotten my birthday package yet but I'm pretty sure it's in Cusco. Our zone leaders had their monthly meeting in Cusco last week but for some reason didn't have time or just decided not to bring anyone's letters. Not really sure. Next month I suppose.
These weeks been cool. I'll start with the first story of the week. There is a lady in our ward named Denise. She's like thirty. She's the only member in her family. She works at a little wanna-be pharmacy called a botiqa in Spanish. Her sister also works there, but has told us a few different times that she has her own religion and doesn't want to hear our message. WELL. Last Monday night we told Denise that we were going to bring a pizza over to her botiqa and that she needed to invite her sister. She told us there was no way her sister was going to come but we still left to go buy the pizza anyway. We went down to the Plaza of Juliaca where they sell pizza, ordered, and then ran to the supermarket to buy laundry soap while they were being made. While we were there we saw her sister, Daisy, doing some shopping. She told us that the soap we were buying was too expensive and showed us where they sold it cheaper. That sparked a small conversation and in the end she agreed to be at the botiqua to eat pizza (don't worry it was outside. We weren't alone with two sisters. It ain't like that). It was cool that we just HAPPENED (not) to find her in the store and she just HAPPENED (not) to agree to come. Cool stuff. It was an awesome opportunity for her to see that the missionaries aren't that weird and for us to share a little bit about the church. Now we're friends and she wants to have dinner with the missionaries again. Pretty cool.
Story numero dos. So on Saturday we were sitting outside of our pension's restaurant where we almorzar (lunch) and were chatting with her a little bit. she told us she didn't want us to leave because she wanted someone to talk to while she cleaned up a little bit. Her restaurant is in the middle of a big old market called tupac. It's a big part of our sector that's just full of little shops and people selling stuff on the street. That's where we met our Columbian gypsie friends. Anyways, across the street there were some ladies playing around with little cans that look like silly string but they basically just spray shaving cream. Carnaval starts here next week and for basically one week people will be drunk and throwing water at each other and spraying shaving cream everywhere, so these ladies were just getting ready early I suppose. They were having a grand old time. Then, one of them thought it would be funny to spray the white kid and his latin friend. So naturally, we reacted because I'm American and I play to win. My companion reacted first by throwing a bucket of water at them. In the midst of the chaos I managed to swipe one of their shaving cream sprayers and it was on. It ended with all of us completely soaking wet and covered in crappy shaving cream. After playing a bit I told them we had an appointment so we had to stop. One of them asked where I was from and what I was doing in Juliaca, so I told her that we were missionaries and that sparked a good 15-minute conversation with them. By the end they all agreed to come to my piano class in the church that night. (last week I forgot to say that I teach piano in the church on Saturdays now. And English on Tuesdays. It's cool). After the class I shared a quick thought about eternal families and then played my rendition of Families Can be Together Forever. It was great and I'm sure they all felt something like Elder Rodriguez and I did.
Elder Niaupari also sent me a picture of my friend/investigator Dona in Andahuaylas. She got baptized last week! Cool stuff. He's got kind of a hard companion right now too. I miss that guy.
And now time to respond to mom's questions:
My new apartment is awesome. There used to be four elders there but now there's only two so it's a good size. It's on the sixth floor of the building though so that's kind of a bummer to climb in the altitude after a long day. I run stadiums in the mornings for exercise haha. And there is hot water!
I'm getting plenty to eat. Probably too much. I haven't had to eat the super gross chuno this week though. Just the kind of gross kind, so that's always a bonus.
My health has been awesome. I think I've lost a little weight which is good because I got fat in Andahuaylas.
My biggest challenge this week for sure was that I finally ran out of short sexy hair and the hair gel here sucks. I'll live though.
Our biggest success was we placed a baptismal date for one sister (more to come on her later. Her name is Maribel and she's a reference from some other elders. She already had desires to be baptized when we met her. Pretty awesome) Also, I just thought of a story. We have one investigator named Cecilia who's talked with like three or four different companionships. She's received every lesson, attends church, and even pays tithing. She told us last week that she was scared to be baptized and wanted more time to receive a real definite answer. At the end of the lesson I felt a prompting and so I promised her that if she didn't forget to pray that night (she forgets things a lot. Sometimes within seconds. She hadn't prayed after the previous lesson) and if she did it sincerely that she would receive an answer that she couldn't forget, nor would she forget our lesson. I was a little scared to make that promise but  I thought of Ether 12:6 where it says we won't receive any testimony until after the trial of our faith. So I tried my faith. Yesterday in church she told my companion that she had received an answer and was ready to be baptized. AWESOME! What a huge testimony builder that was. We're going to meet with her this week so I'll keep y'all posted.
The scripture with the biggest impact on me this week is the above mentioned Ether 12 6. I use that almost daily in lessons.
I'm looking forward to teaching this week. Our baptism will be the next week after that.
It's been a good week. Things are slowly but surely picking up. I like Peru. The Church is true. I'm a poet and I didn't even think that was possible. Amen.
Elder Tate

Monday, February 2, 2015

When Did We Get Ice Cream?

It's been a rough week. I'll start with the good stuff first.

So we've been working the past week and a half with a guy named Cesar who's been progressing very well. He told us that he wants to pray and learn more to know if the church is true, and when he gets an answer he said he'd be baptized. Pretty cool. Even COOLER is this week we taught two of his brothers as well and they both said the same. Their mother also told us that she has a friend that's a member and always seems to be happy. She wanted to know how she could be as happy as her friend and wants to learn more about the gospel. So we've got a family that's progressing very well. Cesar and his brothers came to our last Noche Misional. We watched Ephraim's Rescue and they all thought that it was super cool.

We also showed up to our chapel one day this week to meet with someone (who didn't show up) when a member from another ward found us and said "Elders, there's a family here that wants to be baptized. Can you talk with them?" That was also super cool. It turned out one of the ladies is getting married in a little while and wants to do it religiously but isn't baptized in any church. Her sister has friends that are members and suggested our church. Kinda cool. We told them that baptism is a sacred ordinance that you shouldn't just DO, but we were super happy for their desires and would teach them more. We'll see how it goes when we teach the word of wisdom and chastity.

The people here are still cool. Our ward has had good attendance the past few weeks. The chapel here is huge, and Juliaca even has a stake! I've gotten to know the bishop a little better and he is super cool. I've made a few more friends in the ward as well.

I hit six months on Friday. That was fun. I finished the BOM for the first time in Spanish that night. So that's special.

I'm also now friends with a bunch of Columbian Gypsies so that's cool.

Things are going good here. My companion seems like he's doing well. The days are kind of like a freight train to get going. He's willing to work and thinks he's obedient but at the same time thinks that certain rules don't apply to him. It makes us clash a little but we're doing okay. I know it's partly my fault because I've been too timid to be a good example, and when I do try to correct him I'm not quite proficient enough in the language to not make it sound rude I think. Or I'm just rude. Probably the latter and the language thing is just an excuse. I dunno. He also told me that he did drugs and drank before he was a member, but I think he did LOTS of drugs and drank A LOT before he was a member. He's a little fried. That makes it a little difficult to communicate. We've talked a bit though and we're working it out. I felt like he didn't really like me but he told me today that this is the first companionship he's had that's cool and that he's enjoyed. That made me feel good. I just decided to fix the things that I don't like about my own missionary work and hopefully he'll follow my example and I'll at least feel better about myself.

That's about all for this week. Sorry that your student teaching schedule is so crazy. I'm sure you do an awesome job and that the kids love you. You're probably my favorite student teacher. Send the West family my love and condolences. I'm so sorry that happened. I wish I could do something for them but I'm a little far away. I love you all and pray for you lots. Peace and blessings.

Elder Pearce