Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

We had a nice Christmas activity on the 26th, although my box from home didn't make it on time.  Hopefully it will still come in January.  It didn't matter.  We have a lot of work to do here in Corrales.  Most people are farmers who work early in the morning, so we can usually find people at home to talk to.  We are also here to help support the branch so it can improve and grow.

I received my travel papers today.  I will be home on January 29th.   So, I have one month to work as hard as I can!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Elder Sims and Elder Vergara
Well, I am in Corrales, which has a small branch.  My new companion is Elder Vergara from Chile.  We were in the same group in the CCM (Perú's missionary training center in Lima).  He will finish a transfer after me, but it's neat to be with him.  We were good friends in the CCM.  We're going to work really hard until the end, and we already are working hard, but I am looking forward to coming home, too.  The branch is small (there were only about 23 people attending Sunday) and the leadership is inexperienced--but maybe I am here to help them with that.  We'll see what I can do to help.

We will have our zone Christmas party on Wednesday.  It should be fun.  We won't do much here for the holiday because people stay up late and then drink all night.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Last Transfer

I thought I would stay in Tumbes for my last transfer, but I was sent to the branch in Corrales, where they need two more missionaries to help support the work.  I was kinda sad to leave Tumbes and everything we were doing there, but I know that the assignments I receive are inspired and that I'll be better off doing what I'm told than I would be doing what I want.  So, I will finish my mission in Corrales.

I was able to skype with my family for Christmas on the 15th--before Joshua went to the MTC.  My family showed me an iPhone 5 that will be my late Christmas present.  I am looking forward to that when I get home.  But there is work still to do here in Corrales.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Busy in Tumbes

We are working with the ward here to help them improve their mission plan.  There is a lot of work to do but we are trying to be supportive to the ward members.  A planned temple trip had to be cancelled for various reasons, so people are a little discouraged.  I hope a new trip can be planned soon.

Summer is coming on and it is getting hotter!

There is only one transfer left in my mission, and so I think I will finish out here in Tumbes. We had a good Zone Leader conference, and I'm excited to work hard these last couple of months.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Brother

My brother, Joshua, got his mission call last week.  He's going to Mongolia.  We will miss seeing each other by a month, which is a little sad, but that's okay.  We'll see each other for Christmas in 2014. I'm excited for Joshua, and I'm sure he'll do great.

Things are moving quickly here.  We had two baptisms recently.  There's a lot to do as a zone leader, and I'm learning a lot.  President Rowley came by for interviews and it was great to get to know him a little.  We recently had a P-day excursion to a beach near La Cruz.  It was a good day, even if we couldn't really do anything there.

I know I only have three months to go on my mission, even though I'm not really counting.  I'm working hard to do my best with the time I have left.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lots to Do

Greg cooks spaghetti...or something like it.

Being a zone leader is pretty hectic.  Even though the zone is really small, it is really hard to do a good week's work on top of all the errands we have to run as zone leaders.  So, it is interesting but a little difficult.  Our Zone Leader conference in Piura last week went well, but I was pretty tired the rest of the week because we had no sleep that night since we had to take the overnight bus to get to the meeting.

General Conference was really great!  I was especially impacted by the common theme in the talks by President Eyring, President Uchtdorf, and Elder Holland.  It is important to think about setting aside some of our aspirations in life to make sure we do what the Lord expects.  I think the Apostles are being much more direct in their talks about their expectation of young men, but maybe I am just listening differently now.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Zone Leader

I'm in Tumbes!  That's the city farthest from Piura in our mission.
My companion is Elder Viña.  He is from Ecuador.  We are the zone leaders here. 

This is the view from our apartment.  It's prettier here; you can see plants and banana trees out the window!  

One of the biggest changes of becoming a zone leader is that we have a little kitchen.  We only eat lunch with our pension.  We cook our own breakfast and dinner.  I'll have to go shopping and remember how to cook!

Tomorrow we have to go to Piura for a zone leader meeting.  In order to get there by the 9:00 a.m. meeting, we have to get on a bus just after midnight.  That will be a new experience.

Tumbes is near the Ecuadorian border; people say it is the hottest place in the mission, but I don't know about that.  It is nicer here because of the banana farms.

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Transfer

President Rowley called me today to tell me I will be transferred, but I don't know where yet.  I only know that I'm going to be a zone leader.  It's going to be interesting.

Elder Waddell of the Seventy visited our mission and spoke about a lot of great things that really helped me grow.  I feel great about my mission and am going to make the best of the time that is left.  I don't count down anymore, and I know I'm happier now than at any point in my mission so far.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cookies and Lemonheads

Greg celebrates the arrival of our long-delayed (by Customs) goodie box with new sunglasses.


Last week, Sister Reyes, who was from my Lima MTC group when we arrived, finished her mission. Here's a picture of our district (where she finished) before she left! 

Things have been a little slow here, but I am learning new things as a District Leader, working hard, trying to be diligent and obedient, and getting thinner.  My jeans I wear on P-day fit me like a potato sack!    

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Colán

For P-day today we went to Colán, which is a town close to Paita. It's more of a tourist or retreat destination, and it's really pretty. We also visited a Catholic church that proports to be from 1535 and the oldest on the west coast of South America. It was interesting. They gave me permission to take a picture inside. 

Presidente y Hermana Chipman visited my family in Iowa last week!  It was strange and cool to think of them in my house, but I was excited they were able to go there.  Our new mission president is also great, and things are going well in the mission.

Our district outside the Catholic Church in Colán

Inside the oldest Catholic Church of the West Coast of South America

Greg loves a good beach and warm water.

This is as far as an Elder goes in the ocean as a missionary!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Companion

I have a new companion, Elder Peralta.  He's from Bolivia.  As you can see from the picture, he has already hit it off with Greg.  Anyway, this month has flown and I can hardly believe it.  Our work goes slowly, but I am learning how much I depend on God for so much.  As complicated as life is, it is hard to believe how anyone can stay sane without faith.  I am hoping to continue learning and developing that reliance.

Elder Peralta and Greg

Friday, August 17, 2012

Weddings and Baptisms

The couple we are working with got married along with a few other couples who were also waiting for the chance to be married.  Our whole district was working to help these families become legally married.  It was a great effort.  Then we had the weddings at Church on Thursday.  There was a celebration afterward.  Three of the couples got baptized a few days later.  The one we helped isn't ready to make that commitment yet, but we are working to introduce them to more people in the branch so they can learn from the members about living the Gospel of Christ.  We have transfers this week, but I am staying here in Paita, so I will get to continue working with this family.  My companion is being transferred to another area in Paita.

Making it official!

Can you find Elder Sims?

Celebrating the wedding!

Monday, August 6, 2012

In Disasters and Miracles



Last Sunday we had a baptism; here's a photo.

This week we had a pretty miraculous experience. We've been working with a family (a really good family, like all families are) to help them get married and be ready to get baptized. The requirements for getting married are really tedious, and for that reason there's such a high rate of cohabitating couples. Anyway, Friday was the last day that the papers could be submitted to be prepared for a scheduled marriage ceremony next Thursday. We got all of the papers together, and Friday morning we went to the municipality to submit the papers. When we first went to submit them, we found out that it would be impossible for the couple to get married unless one of them officially changed their address to Paita. Well, they didn't really want to and hesitated for a while. In the meantime, we had a succession of different people that came and went who could have signed as witnesses (it's a real headache). At 12:00 we gave up and went back to our area. Elder Martínez and I talked for a bit, wondered what we might do, prayed a lot, and decided to try just once more. Having prayed, I had a general idea of what we could do and who we could ask to be witnesses--even though it had been really hard that morning to find anyone who was willing and not busy. In spite of that, I felt that if God wanted this marriage to happen, He'd open the way and our pensionista and her husband would be disposed to help. We went to the investigator family's house, told the mom what we thought and called her husband--but he felt that it would be better to just let things wait until it was more convenient (which it never is). We sat there for about 5 minutes comiserating, when suddenly he called back again and said that he wanted to give it another shot. We agreed to meet again after lunch and work it all out. The man in the municipality had said that he'd wait until 3:00 in the afternoon. We went to the pension and found that the pensionista's husband was home. We asked if they had any plans for the afternoon, and they replied that they were free. So we explained our situation and asked their help and arranged for them to come down when everything was ready. As we took the mototaxi back to the city center, I looked at my watch and felt kind of like the people of Israel as they descended toward the Red Sea. It was going to be really difficult to get everything done in time, but I felt almost a cool confidence, like I already knew that we would make it. It wasn't easy to keep that faith for the whole process, but I trusted the best I could, and honestly, things turned out miraculously. We finished just barely in time. I realized that God really had performed a miracle with us that day, and not just that, but that He had let things fall apart and be a bit difficult so that I (at least) could realize that we hadn't succeeded alone. The couple is going to get married this Thursday, and I know that it is because that was what God wanted for them. And now I realize, too, that even though things don't go well at all from the start, if we trust God's will, it turns out well. He's in the distasters as well as in the miracles, because that's how He shows His power.

It was an exhilirating experience, and even though I didn't feel any spiritual explosions, I was sure that day that it was a miracle, and I'll stick with that.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Work Goes On

I'm glad my family at home can get to the temple in three hours.  Here, the temples are at least eight hours away, and members have to travel in buses together because cars aren't really an option.  This week, they announced the temple in Guayaquil, Ecuador, will be closed for a short time--right when our branch members were planning a trip--so they will have to search for another chance.  A new temple is being built in Trujillo, Perú, which is about five hours away, and it will be a big blessing here.

We had nine investigators at Church this week.  It is exciting, but I know that progress for them will be slow until they start making important commitments.  It is necessary for couples to be married, for instance.  It is also important for people to understand the commitments they are making when they get baptized, to be converted to the Gospel and not just the Church.  So we will hope to help these people make progress toward their goals.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Mission President

President Chipman and his wife finished their mission and went home Saturday.  Our new mission president is President Rowley.  I haven't met him yet.  President Chipman was a great mentor and friend, and I hope to visit him sometime after my mission.

The weather here in Paita is pretty nice.  Sometimes it is even a little cool, since we are right on the coast.  It is never cold and when the sun it out, it is hot.  But this is winter, so we are enjoying the lower temps.  I have a great companion and we like studying and serving together.

Last week I was able to give a blessing to a sister missionary who had been frightened by a scary experience.  I didn't really know all the details, but as District Leader I was asked to bless her.  I remembered receiving comfort from blessings my father had given me throughout my life, and so I earnestly prayed to be able to  provide that same comfort.  I felt a powerful Spirit inspiring my words and I was grateful for the experience--and for my dad's example.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Nice Weather, Good Work

Elder Martinez and Elder Sims

Paita, Peru


My companion and I will be staying in Paita for at least another six weeks, as we weren't changed this transfer.  We like it here and are working with good investigators who are making progress toward understanding the Gospel.  Our weather is pretty nice, although it hasn't rained all month.

Last Wednesday we translated for a group of Americans that had come to give away glasses to people that needed them.  I helped to measure people's prescription; it was neat (and a lot easier than translating last year when I was new in the mission).

President Chipman goes home this week and we will have a new President by Sunday.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

P-day in Pueblo Nuevo


We went to a town called Pueblo Nuevo last week. Here are some of the pictures. You can almost see the ocean in one of them. It's a nice place. I'm learning more from the scriptures as I study. I wish that I had comprehended a lot more before coming here. But I'm glad for what I am learning now.  I recommend reading "The Infinite Atonement" by Tad Callister.  It's teaching me and helping me a lot. I'm beginning to understand just what a big difference the Atonement makes in my life. And it helps me teach others the same.


My companion is Elder Martinez

You can almost see the ocean :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New City!

I've been transferred out of Piura for the first time!  Now I am in Paita, a city about an hour away from Piura.  I'm in a branch called Pescador, which means "fisherman."  It's a port.  Everyone here is a fisher.  Or they are factory workers.  There is a lot of poverty in the area, and sometimes it is known for riots among workers.  We'll see how it goes.  Our branch has many good members but we do lack enough priesthood leadership to do everything that needs to be done.  The branch president is a good guy, even if he is inexperienced, and he only has one counselor.  I'm excited, though, to do my best to help this branch mature and expand.  I'll try to do something good in the time I may have here.  I'm learning about attitude!

Friday, May 18, 2012

My 21st Birthday

In Peru, cake and eggs go ON you before they go IN you.
I had a good birthday.  It was on Mother's Day, so I also got to Skype with my family.  I had some boxes come from home, and we celebrated with the balloons and banner and goodies at a member's home.  The Bishop from a previous ward I served in also came to celebrate with us; that was great.

My brother, Joshua, is preparing for his mission and my parents asked for advice.  I told them how important it is to have a strong conviction of the Gospel.  It is one thing to live the Gospel at home, where one is content to do so, and another to have to stand before people every day and have your faith challenged. It takes a higher level of conviction to not only withstand that but help people accept the Restored Gospel as true.  It is a very difficult thing to do every day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fifteen Months...Wow!

Well, I have passed my 15-month mark, and my birthday is approaching.  Today I got three small boxes from home.  That was a lot of candy!  Dad asked what helps young men prepare for a mission.  I thought about it; it starts in their testimonies and their homes. If they grow up with a real testimony and a strong family, they'll go. If they spend more time sneaking out of the Church in their daily lives than living in Zion, they'll not want to go, nor will they be ready.  That's my feeling, at least.  Gotta go!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Area, Same Big City

Baptism in Castilla

Well, I'm.... still in Piura. Technically it's called Castilla (pronounced Castiya), but it's like a Cedar Falls to Waterloo; just across the river and part of a larger metropolitan area. The area is a little more affluent than I am used to, so now some of the people we visit are much more educated. We're even teaching a brain surgeon who studied in Russia. Obviously, not everyone wants to listen, but they're more polite and understand better what we are saying.  So, the new area has been a transition, but it is going okay.  We had a baptism on Sunday; that's what the picture is from. 


I'm doing well, although things are wearing out--my pants, ties, and socks, mostly.  At least I got my shoes fixed!  Thanks for everything and "hi" to everyone!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter

We had a good Easter weekend, but I spent part of Sunday saying goodbye to members of the ward where I am serving.  Transfers are tomorrow, but I don't know where I will be going. I have been here four months.  In that time, our ward has seen about 17 baptisms, and in my area, we had five.  I have a good district, but I always feel I could be doing more.  I will try to work even harder in my next area.  Anyway, the Stake President came Sunday and gave a good talk and a good class for the investigators.

I have worn through a pair of my shoes, but I was able to get them resoled at the local market.  They are soft and comfy and good for another year!  Congratulations to my good friend, Jack Kosmicki, for getting into Harvard graduate school!

Happy Easter from Piura!

Monday, April 2, 2012

General Conference weekend

Elder Sims and others at General Conference Broadcast


 I liked Conference a lot :)  I didn't capture everything, but I got most of it and 23 pages of notes.  I'll have to re-listen to a bit and review my notes ... but it was good.  I'm not sure what was my favorite talk yet, but I'll be reading my notes this week. Elder Bednar gave a pretty good message.  I hope that you all were able to learn from all the sessions and all the great teachings there! Elder Scott gave a really interesting talk as well. I think that one of the more interesting and important themes to me was that several authorities urged members to remember the importance of the ordinances, they talked about being active not only in the Church, but also in the Gospel. I liked Donald Hallstorm's talk about that, because it makes a lot of sense from a missionary's point of view. I could go on, but that's for another time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fourteen Months

This year has passed really quickly, more than any other of my life. Wow. I'm really excited for General Conference this year, and hoping that it'll be a good experience :) It's not as hot here as it was, and I think I've now passed the worst of the heat of my mission!  This was a good week. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rain is welcome

It rained today.  It almost never rains hard.  I like the rain because it gives us a break from the heat, even though that means the next day will be hot and humid.

I'm looking forward to General Conference, and I'm trying to prepare by studying the talks from the last conference.  I liked how Elder Scott said the scriptures can be like friends.

We baptized two people this weekend, a mother and son. The woman was a little scared because her husband isn't very supportive, but she was willing to take that big step.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Onward

Our heat continues, but summer is supposed to be ending gradually.  By the end of April, our high temperatures will only be around 90°F instead of 98°.  The heat does make it hard to work; no one wants to be out in the hot afternoon sun.  But I am used to it now.  Our city, Piura, has three stakes of the Church and five mission zones.  That's how I have been in the city all my mission so far.  Our proselyting areas are small but have high populations.  When the new Chiclayo mission was created last year, they took most of our jungle areas away.  It was kind of sad, since we don't get to go to those areas, but there are still five good-sized cities in our mission.  Some have missionaries and some don't.  My ward here has about 150 active members and we have six missionaries.  Things are going well with Elder Barreno!

Monday, March 5, 2012

New Companion

My new companion is Elder Barreno.  He's from Guatemala.  We are looking forward to working hard this week.  This Sunday, our most recent convert, Yenson, blessed the Sacrament (even though he's still struggling with a speech impediment), and Sergio (who got baptized in January) bore his testimony. There's still a long way to go working with a few people here, but I think that I'm here in part to learn from these experiences and maybe to help in whatever way it may be that I can. So this is my 9th change and I continue in my 3rd area, but at least I haven't had to pack!


Elder Huacoto and his companion with Elder Sims and Elder Barreno

Monday, February 27, 2012

Training

Well, transfers are tomorrow! I'm staying right here, though, and I've been told that I'll be training. So I'll be getting ready for that now! These next changes will be time to try to be more diligent that even before, and now not just for my sake.  I've been pretty busy, but things are good!  It has been really hot, and there are a lot of flies and mosquitoes and gnats ... the gnats are the worst because the fly right into your eyes and ears.  Yesterday it was so hot that I took a wet washcloth and wore it for a hat in our apartment.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

February is not the hottest month

They say here that March and April are worse than February, but after that it starts to cool down. I'm glad it will be my last summer :)


**Since Kristian's Grandpa Manning passed away on February 8th, our correspondence has been about family and funeral matters, so there isn't much to post from Elder Sims at this time.  We will get back to normal in future weeks.**

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Summer

We had a little time today for P-Day to look around the tourist market.  I saw some art that seems pretty cool.  But then I didn't have much time to write anything today, so I'll have to write next week! Here's a few photos.

Why, thank you, Greg, don't mind if I do!

A little P-day tree climbing at the park

Peruvian art

A sample of the art we saw in the tourist market

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

¡Cumpleaño!

The time's gone quick, but there's still a lot left. Since it was my "cumpleaño" in that I completed one year, the other elders in the apartment egged me again. But it was funny :)  This morning I planned Jeopardy with the scriptures for the zone for P-day, but it was too difficult... Next time, it'll have to be simpler. But it'll be good studying in the future.


Celebrating Elder Sims' First Year of Service with an egg fight!

Will the shirts and ties ever get clean again?
We had a conference this week and the area doctor came with his wife to talk about a few things. It was interesting to converse with him.  They're the first Senior Missionaries from the UK. The most surprising part is that President Chipman invited me to translate for him when he couldn't quite get the Spanish. I was pleased that I was able to do that! And a little surprised, too. 


As I serve, I'm learning more about how the Gospel really can change peoples lives, and I hope that I can help them make that change. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Carnival

For P-day, we played kickball in a sandy soccer-field and were exhausted by the heat. Here in January and February they have a thing called "Carnivales" where everyone gets everyone else wet. Sometimes they used dirtier things too, like eggs and paint, but hopefully they'll be civil to us. After the game we had a mini "Carnival" as well and splashed water on everyone. It was really refreshing, and I had several buckets of water dumped on me.

One year!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Staying in Piura for now

The heat is still pretty bad, although recently it's been decently cloudy. My companion and I take showers at night now because we can't stand going to bed sticky. Still, I'm pretty used to heat now, so it's okay.
A youth named Walter came to church last week with his cousin and attended a baptism and was interested. We visited him Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday, and Friday, and he was interviewed Saturday and baptized Sunday (Jan. 15th). It was a big surprise, but it was neat. After that I felt ready for transfers no matter what, but this morning I was told that I'll be continuing as District Leader here, and that's it. My companion stays, too, so tomorrow there aren't any changes for us. It's just as well. The ward's been picking up momentum. Yesterday, two companionships baptized, and last week all three had one baptism each. Next week there should be 2 more and if we can keep things up at this rate it'll be all very good.  So, when I hit my one-year mark next week, I will have been in the same city my entire mission!

Walter's Baptism on January 15th

The woman forgot to smile, but we really were all happy on this baptism, Jan. 7th!


Monday, January 9, 2012

It's Summer in Peru!

It is hard to sleep in this heat, but I manage.  This weekend was good. We baptized Saturday, and the other two areas in this ward baptized Sunday! So things are going well. I interviewed for baptisms for the first time this weekend, so that's pretty new. Two of them were in a brand-new area that has just been opened this past month or so. It's great. They have a house that they rent that we use as a chapel. It's really neat, and now they're about to have their first two baptisms! They're only youths, but at the same time, in several years, they could be the foundations of a ward! It's cool. Next week is transfers again; time's gone faster and faster!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy 2012!

New Year's here is really loud! There were a ton of fireworks. There aren't any laws here about fireworks, so everybody bought fireworks and shot them off at midnight to celebrate. I had earplugs and slept right through most of it. Almost everyone had parties, too, but most of the people who aren't members of the Church here drink a lot when they party, so it was hard to teach anyone. We have one investigator who's really close to getting baptised, but it's been a long process for him.  We are hoping for the best for him.


I hope you have a Happy New Year.