Monday, December 26, 2011

¡Feliz Navidad!

Elder Sims via Skype on Christmas Day!
A week before Christmas, we were told we could Skype with our families for about 45 minutes on Christmas Day.  A family in my new area had a computer with Internet service, so I talked to my family and saw their Christmas presents.  It was hard speaking in English, because I was still thinking in Spanish.  But it was nice to use Skype again!

Thanks to Grandma Manning and Grandma Sims for sending new ties!  I needed them.  I wore one of them on Christmas Day.  My family also sent me a new backpack, a watch (I lost my old one in a moto), a T-shirt, and plenty of candy.  We got together as a mission on Christmas Eve, and the office had held on to all the postal packages to distribute to us then.  It really felt like Christmas! I walked around with my backpack on even though I didn't have anything in it.  The Peruvians like to shoot off fireworks on Christmas Eve, so we were awake listening to those around midnight.

The night before (so, Friday), there was a ward party.  I got to play the piano a bit, which I haven't been able to do for a long time.  I really liked having time to play some of my favorite songs like Carol of the Bells and O Holy Night. 

My new companion is Elder Perero from Ecuador.  He is a recent convert and he loves learning new things, so it's fun to teach him what I surprisingly still remember from Seminary. I didn't think I paid that much attention...haha.  He's a good companion. 

Mom sent me a tree earlier in the month, and Greg and I set it up in the apartment.  You can see from the picture how excited Greg was.  The light saber was a little too big for him, though.

Greg starts celebrating a little early

Greg likes the new truck he got; it was hiding in Kristian's new backpack

Elder Sims on Christmas Day with a ward member and other Elders

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Responsibilities

I'm in an area called Lopez Albujar. It's exactly across the street (to the west) from where I was before. It's a different zone but I've barely moved at all. I'm the district leader now with a district of 8. It's very interesting and a new experience but it's going better than I thought. I think that the biggest surprise is that now I'm the example. There are a lot of new missionaries so I have to demonstrate good principles and everything.  Thanks to all for the well wishes and I hope that all goes well for you this Christmas :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Transfers and Donuts

I'll be leaving San Pedro this week, and I'll be with an Elder who has just finished his training, but I don't know where I will be going yet.  I hope everyone is having fun with their Christmas celebrations.  Sometimes it's hard to even remember it is Christmastime here without our usual traditions, and it will definitely be my least materialistic Christmas ever.  At least I'll be able to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, even if it will probably be 100° soon.

This Sunday one of the members who has his own restaurant in his house taught us how to make "picarones," which are like scones or donuts. They're pretty delicious, although most of the ones that Elder Arestizabal and I did didn't turn out very good. We ate fettuccini alfredo for lunch too, with parmesan cheese... I miss parmesan cheese. Apparently it's really expensive here. But yesterday was a good day to eat!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

We celebrated Thanksgiving with tacos because they are a special treat.  It was nice.  I think I might be transferred soon because I have been in San Pedro for a long time.  If I get moved, I hope I can make a difference there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Elders Sims and Arestizabel

Some weeks go better than others.  We have been working with some good investigators, but their progress is slowed by things like needing to get married and so forth.  We have already decorated the apartment for Christmas--way too early, I think.  Here is a photo from our most recent baptism in San Pedro.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Summer is Coming

Celebrating Elder Grubb's one-year mark!
It is getting hotter here, and I'm not too excited about that, but I don't think about it too much.  We had fun celebrating Elder Grubb's one-year mark at the Bishop's home.  We really appreciate all the work the members do.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Loving San Pedro

With this change, I stayed in San Pedro.  It's nice to see it grow.  We had a baptism Friday. I don't have time to send pictures.  Sorry.  My new companion is from Chile. He's pretty cool. His name is Elder Arestizabal. It's pretty hard to say. Things have been going pretty well here, thanks for your prayers. We have four really good investigators that have been progressing well, and the ward is doing pretty well with its new bishop. Recently 8 ward missionaries were called, and hopefully that will help with everything. I had almost forgotten that today is Halloween! Here the main thing is "Día de los muertos" or Day of the Dead. It's a national holiday and everyone visits the cemeteries to honor their dead.   Well, I'll try to keep a handle of everything here, and I hope you all enjoy your Halloween and the rest of the week!

Greg gets ready for Halloween with his clever costume

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Great Week

 We have been doing really great lately. We just had an awesome week. We're teaching lots of people and things are going really well! We're going to have a baptism this Friday. We have two really great families (small but good ones) that are progressing toward baptism.  I gave a talk Sunday; it went really well!  Tomorrow we get new companions.  I know I am staying in this ward, which makes me happy because things are really starting to take off.  I'm getting the hang of this and learning the rhythm of the work.  It is keeping me really busy and it's great.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Moving Ahead

The family we helped move really seems to love the Church.  They need to keep learning and get married and everything, but it's going well so far.  The dad has tons of interest.  He's been reading and understands everything.  They have been to Church twice and are excited to learn.  The brother in the ward who let us use his truck talked about the experience in Sacrament Meeting.  He said that in the beginning, he thought he was going to earn some money for the work, but when he realized it was a service project he went ahead anyway.  He realized afterward that the satisfaction he might have had with 20 soles would be temporary, but the satisfaction of having served another family in need and helping them find the Gospel grants him a much longer-lasting pleasure.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Moving Others

Loading the truck to help a family move
I am pictured with my district leader.  So, we had met a family one day and offered to help them move. They were from Tumbes, another city that's pretty far away to the north, and they didn't have family or anything.  It turned out that the day that they had to move, they only had 10 soles for lunch, and renting a truck was going to cost 50.  We managed to get a member to bring his truck and the Bishop and his brother and their friend helped us to get them moved.  They did it all in like ... four trips.  The family was really happy and came to all three hours of Church yesterday.  They liked it all a lot and hopefully will keep progressing.  It surprised and impressed me what a huge difference that a simple two hour service project might end up making in their lives.  They already love the Church and the members, and we haven't even taught them yet :)

Monday, October 3, 2011


 This week has been pretty short to me. I had two days of training conferences or whatever you'd call it in English and then two days of General Conference right after. I don't remember if I mentioned this, but I'm technically a trainer now, since our third companion had to take someone else's place who had gone home. I don't know if I could say that I'm prepared, but I'm trying to measure up.

Taking a break between sessions of the General Conference broadcast

Meeting up with Tochiro at the General Conference Broadcast

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Short Trio

Our trio is over, since Elder Rafaele was able to replace an Elder going home.  So now it's just me and Elder Maldonado, the newbie from Guatemala.  Technically that makes me his trainer but he's quite trained already.  The husband of our pensionista just got called as Bishop.  They live right across from us and we see them almost every day, so that's pretty nice.  We recently had another baptism.  My time is short today, but I hope all is well at home.  Thanks for the letters and prayers!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Companions

It was transfer time this week, and Elder Young was transferred.  I stayed in San Pedro, but I got surprised with two companions instead of one this time. A missionary came by surprise from Guatemala with a late visa so he went with us. Their names are Elder Rafaele and Elder Maldonado. 

Then Sunday, instead of having a normal stake conference, we saw a satellite broadcast from Salt Lake City that spoke--I think--to all stakes in Peru. The talks were given by Walter F. Gonzalez, Julie B. Beck, D. Todd Christofferson, and President Thomas S. Monson. I was a bit surprised, but President Monson was the only one who used a translator. Everyone else spoke Spanish!  That was pretty neat.

Sorry I don't have pictures this time; maybe soon!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


There's a reason that we missionaries leave a commitment with everyone that we teach. If we challenge them to even just pray every night or read a folleto (pamphlet), then when they comply with that commitment, they show us that they're capable of progressing. But more importantly, they show the Lord that they're willing to arrange their priorities for Him. What's more, it's part of the repentance process, allowing them to leave their sins and put the Lord higher on their priority list. Even when a person can't repent of all their sins because they haven't learned all of the commandments, they can show the fruits of "faith unto repentance" through keeping simple commitments. This is a lesson for all of us. If someone doesn't even feel the motive to read the scriptures a few minutes (let alone study them) or pray or go to Church or keep the Sabbath Day holy--the little things--if they don't feel to do those things, then in their heart of hearts, have they really repented? They might not have grave sins standing against them, but something I've learned here is that everyone needs repentance, even if it's a project of small things. If we aren't repentant, our baptismal convenants aren't effective by themselves, and the little things may end up having an eternal impact on our lives.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Elder Oaks visited the mission!

This week, we had a mission conference with Elder Dallin H. Oaks and it was really sweet.  I took a bunch of notes, but the only thing I'll pass on for now is that he used an iPad for his scriptures and said that President Packer told all of the apostles to carry them always and to learn to use them.  How awesome is that?  I miss technology...but not too much.

We share our apartment in San Pedro with the Zone Leaders. A bunch of new missionaries have come in, and I realized I have been out for 7 months now!  Wow.

P-Day lunch with the Zone Leaders

Study time

Monday, August 15, 2011

No more cats

Elder Young, President Chipman, Elder Sims
President Chipman is a really great guy. We had interviews with him this last week and it was really edifying. So, my new area is San Pedro, a neighborhood in Piura.  The apartment is nice.  The pensionista (the lady that cooks for us) lives right across the hall. Both of the apartments are part of her in-law's house. They're all really friendly, and she cooks really well. It's fun. There's no cat, but I don't need it as much anymore.  All of the food here is quite fresh. Today I bought a crate of the best navel oranges I've ever had. The box cost 40 soles, or about... 15 dollars. Those oranges are the best! They're the kind that are usually exported and I really enjoy them.  

San Pedro apartment
Another view of the San Pedro apartment

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

San Pedro

So this is my first transfer.  But I didn't go far.  I'm in a different area in the same zone in Piura. It's called San Pedro. It's a lot smaller but it's got some really good members. I'm still getting to know everything here but it's going well! I'm with one of my best friends here in the mission, Elder Young. He's the one who went to La Huaca with me when we were translating in Paita. His family is from the US, if you were wondering, and the name goes up as far as you can imagine ;) cool, no? Anyway, since we're from the same group, neither of us is the senior companion and we're learning to motivate ourselves to work hard. That's the project for this transfer.  I never realized before that I'd be making friends here that I'd have for the eternities. That kind of blew my mind one day.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Time for a Change

 I'm getting transferred tomorrow morning. It's a little sad. I got rather attached to this area and felt almost like it was my home ward. I loved being in the sacrament meetings and seeing every family arrive, even when they were active. I know it'll be the same in other wards too, but it's a little sad that I have to let go of these people. Hopefully I can keep in touch with some.  I don't know where I'll be going next, so here are a few thoughts on Piura....

Piura is a city of dust.  It rains very little and there's only grass in some places.  Most of the streets where I've been are just dirt.  In order to prevent these streets from turning into dust, everyone waters the dirt.  Every day.  It was really weird at first, but then after that it was weird seeing people watering grass because it wasn't dirt.  Sometimes people water the dirt in the houses as well.  Houses are primarily cement and bricks--or if they can't afford that, adobe, wood, straw, sticks.  Think 3 little pigs.  I've sent a picture of a moto before.  These mototaxis are how most people get around here, including misioneros.  Motos are motorcycles that have been modified to have 3 wheels and a carriage part in the back.  They look really unsafe and ... aren't really very safe at all.  An alarming number of motos drive all over the place and if you want to go somewhere without walking you just wave one over or talk to the nearest waiting one, settle on a price and go.  Other fun interesting things: tiendas.  Anyone can open their house up as a tienda, or store.  They buy some things and resell them through the window.  Some are really big and quite successful.  The weird thing is that there are like 3 or 4 in a block sometimes.  Sometimes more.  I don't know how it is that they can compete with each other but they do.  Well, that's all  of my time.  Bye!

Elder Sims and Elder Castro

Elder Sims with other Elders in Piura

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cool nights mean cold showers!

I'm finally able to send a few photos.  It is winter here in Perú.  It's still hot in the day, but it gets a little chillier at night now. The water system in the apartment is that there's a tank on the roof to preserve pressure. That water gets super cold at night :P I'm almost looking forward to summer to avoid that alone.  haha

We had two baptisms last Sunday! They were confirmed yesterday! One (second from right) is an older gentleman who lives alone, his name is Fidel. He accepted everything we told him and was baptized three weeks after we met him!  He's very faithful and willing and likes the Church a lot. The other is a 19-year-old youth named Manuel (standing next to me). We've known him for a while and it's been hard to get time with him sometimes, but now he's doing really well! He already has a lot of friends in the Church and he's doing well!

Transfers come in one week. I think this time it'll be time for me to go--maybe. I can't imagine leaving this area, but it'll have to happen sooner or later. Some of these members and converts are really good friends. 

One of the youths (see photo above) who's about to go on his mission to Chile in a month went to the market with us and helped us find our way around.  We have a really large and really great ward/area! Yesterday between 160 and 170 people attended Sacrament Meeting in that tiny chapel!  We had 7 investigators attend. It was a good day. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Broken computers

Kristian's access to functioning computers and time to use them have been limited this past month, so he hasn't been able to send photos or long messages.  He passes the six-month mark next week!  In his past few emails to the family, he has mostly been responding to our reports of family reunion activities and our travels.  More normal posts will come as the summer here and winter there pass.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Rest of My Family is in China

While the rest of the family traveled in China, we only exchanged short emails with Kristian.  Other than wishing us well on our trip and sending Father's Day greetings to his dad, here is what Kristian reported on June 13th:  We had a baptism on Saturday and two confirmations during Testimony Meeting. There were about 180 people in the chapel.

Then on June 20th, he wrote:  Today we found out the transfers. Elder Zaugg is going to the other [new] mission in Chiclayo. I'm staying here in Algarrobos and will be with an Elder Castro! Also, since our area is so big and has such potential, we're going to divide it up and share it with the assistants to the president! :O So we'll see how that goes. It'll be different with the changes, especially being the only North American in the apartment, but I'm glad I get to stay in Algarrobos for now.

And then on the 27th:  It sure has been a crazy change. At least I'm blessed to be able to speak Spanish well enough that I don't really have any problems talking even though there are three Latinos now in the apartment. Elder Castro is from Guatemala. He's had 9 months here and recently became senior companion this change. He's nice and friendly. I think I'll learn Spanish a lot more now. I'll send a picture.

Elder Sims and Elder Castro

Elder Castro was introduced to Greg, 
Kristian's Lego man and favorite photo subject

A member of the ward sent this photo of Elder Sims and Elder Zaugg

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cooling Off

The weather is getting a little cooler here.  At night.  We took a long hike for P-Day.  Here are a few pictures:

A P-Day Hike up in the hills

Riding on the back of a Moto

Monday, May 30, 2011

El Bautismo

We had a baptism this morning!  The guy's name is Toshiro.  His mom is a recent convert from other missionaries and we started teaching him.  He progressed really steadily over the last month and a half and chose a Monday morning for his low-key baptism.  He was really happy and has already been pretty active, so it'll be nice to see him continue in the Church.  I'm still thrilled with what a great, helpful ward we have!

We were happy to escort Toshiro into the waters of baptism. 

Toshiro stands between his mom and me.  Elder Zaugg is on the right. 

Mom's birthday boxes finally came--a few weeks late but still good.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Four Months and Loving It

Sometimes it can be hard getting people to come to Church on Sunday.  They don't realize what an important part that is to their conversion.  The people here are really nice, though, and we can always find people to teach.  Some progress more than others and we always feel like there's more to get done!  I came to realize this week how great our area is.  The members, the people, everything!  It's kind of large and our chapel is far away.  Pretty soon that should be fixed, though, since they are going to construct a new chapel.  I wish I could stay here for the whole two years.  We have a really great ward.  Members stop us on the street with referrals and invitations and everything!  There are a good number of youths preparing for missions and others that just got back and they're all eager to go with us.  They will hopefully help us cover our huge area a bit better.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kristian's 20th Birthday

Kristian had been warned about a local birthday tradition, and this is what happened....

It was interesting! It was more fun than I thought and there wasn't too much of a mess....We went for dinner and found that the other elders in our apartment had gone early to decorate. Dinner was really really good, and then they pulled out a cake! They sang Happy Birthday in English and Spanish and I blew out the candles. For a second I thought that the danger was past, but then they told me to taste it. Then I realized where it was going but I went with it. All three of them shoved my face into the cake and then started attacking me with eggs and shaving cream. Then they started getting each other with the shaving cream and we all came out laughing and dirty. I ran my head under the shower and we went back to the apartment with four slices of cake and got some pop. We all showered and then ate cake and played Ludo. It was really fun! Grandma and Grandpa Sims sent a tie and tie pin and so I had a pretty great birthday! 

Our party with our pensionista and her lucky kitten.

The sister baked this great cake.

Feliz Cumpleaños, Elder Sims

Yes, that is egg all over Kristian's shirt and hair.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

USS Comfort

The US Navy and civilian volunteers came to the port of Paita to offer free medical care. 
We worked as translators for the doctors.  Here is their main staging area.

This is the USS Comfort, the ship the Navy came to port in.

The Navy and volunteers were getting started.  

A few hundred people were let in every day. Some got dental care or extractions, some got optometry exams and glasses, a lot met doctors and pediatricians and presented their complaints. They got various medicines, or sometimes were told we couldn't help them. Very few got the privilege of going to the ship for free surgeries of various types. For me, it was a very interesting experience. I didn't know so many medical problems existed, and I didn't know that doctors know them so well.  Sometimes we had to tell the people grave things about their health.  I also had to spend a little time at the back gate trying to disperse a crowd of people who got in without permission and wouldn't receive treatment. Sobering stuff... 

With Elder Young and two Navy sailors, waiting for our assignments in Paita.  We actually ended up going to La Huaca, a farming area with banana trees and rice fields, to provide translation for doctors.

May 9, P-Day trip to the ice cream store. 
The ice cream here is spectacular. They have some incredible flavors. 
It might also help that ice cream is so nice to have as a missionary in Peru.

Motos are everywhere.  
You just hail them like a taxi and haggle before going where you want to go. 
This one was outside of our apartment.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Humanitarian Work

This building at the end of our street has been built in just a few weeks.

This is the view from our balcony.

This is across the street from our apartment.

Today, tomorrow, and a couple other days this week, we're with the US Navy and a group of volunteers from the Church who are offering free treatment to Peruvians on the coast. Bilingual missionaries are going to help translate. I can't do a lot yet but I helped at the registration trying to translate their complaints.  The people just come for free treatment.  It is pretty amazing.  It is affecting our regular missionary work, though, and we will have a lot to do catching up with our investigators after this week.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter!

For Easter, church was really crowded; we had ten investigators that came,  and I felt pretty good about it!  The chapel is about 1/3 as big as ours in Iowa but there were more than 150 people there! They're going to start building a new chapel for this ward later this year, and it looks like it might even be a stake center for the future, so hopefully there'll be more room because we had to stand outside, it was so crowded. Most of what seems to be the tradition for the Holy Week here is that everyone watches Bible films like the Ten Commandments and the like all week. It was kind of funny. We did a zone/stake service project cleaning up a school for special needs kids. This turned out to mean gathering various bits of litter into piles and burning them.  By the way, here are some pictures from a work visit with our zone leaders. Their apartment is really nice.... the other two missionaries are just from the area. Our zone leaders get a kitchen, so we made mac and cheese. It was amazing, but I couldn't summon up the appetite to eat the rest of the pan. One box next time.

Hooray for mac and cheese

A workday with other Elders in the zone