Hey everyone! Until January 2013, I'll be serving the Lord preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Perú. I can't access this blog directly, but my mom will post pictures and updates here as I send them. Thanks for keeping in touch!
I think I have an easier time speaking Spanish than understanding, because it´s so fast. I think it's just different for everyone though. I'm keeping up better now, so three weeks from now I think I might be fairly competent. It's still mind-blowing to think that I didn't know Spanish at all only 6 weeks ago. Most of the missionaries left for the field yesterday, there are only three of us left. About a hundred will come in tonight and begin the cycle again, and then we'll be out in the field! We watched an MTC devotional given by Elder Bednar about recognizing the promptings of the Spirit. It was really amazing. The main thing I learned from it is that the majority of experiences where you're directed by the Holy Ghost isn't a big experience and you don't recognize it as a prompting at the time. He said he was asked a lot about how to know when it's the Spirit and when it's "just me." He said that the answer was to quit worrying about it and go forward, and this helped me to stop worrying so much about what I do and focus on doing as much work as I can in the next two years. Last week we found a member who had fallen into inactivity after his wife died but I think he'd been married in the temple and he said he'd return to Church and offered a beautiful prayer and I felt so good to think that because we chanced upon his door he could probably be with his wife again.
There's a lot to adjust to here, for sure. The food is ok, but definitely not normal. The CCM (MTC in Spanish) is a nice place--newer than Provo, but there's less money in the budget. You have to eat everything you get at the cafeteria and it's always rice with meat and some kind of potato. The temple is interesting in Spanish. I went without a headset this time and understood most from what I remember, but I still can't speak quite well enough. We had a little more variety in food, yesterday we got spaghetti with almost-pizza! We were really excited. I bought some soy sauce today (I think) that might help some of the rice when I don't get enough sauce. Some of the fruit is good. They have fresh, green clementines that I usually like, and bananas. My companion is Elder Baez, from Argentina. He's super nice and diligent and a good missionary, but his accent is sometimes hard to understand. All North Americans here have Latino companions, but we separate for classes so we can learn Spanish too. The Latinos are only here for 3 weeks so I'll have a different companion one week from now and most of the Elders here will be in the field. There are only 3 elders here that will be staying after the rotation: myself, Elder Hatch (from Provo, also going to Piura) and Elder Schomburg (from... Colorado? he's going to Ecuador Quito). None of the other Elders here now are going to our missions, they alternate which missions come in so next rotation there with be elders going to our areas. I heard that they announced a new Chiclayo mission that will take out some of our area.
Umm I don't know how much of what's been going on to narrate to you in the time that I have, so I'll skip to proselyting on Saturday. We went to an area in Callao, which is apparently one of the poor, dangerous (at night) parts of Lima. The area really was quite poor and the culture was striking. My companion and I went around in the sun for 6 hours or so with one of the maestras (hna. caballero) and tracted. We contacted several people and taught 3 lessons, one of which went very well (from what I could tell). I wasn't able to do much (or understand much) besides sit there and quote the primera visión at one point. Still, i'm making progress and (hopefully) will be prepared when the time comes to get out into the field.