It's been two weeks since my last blog post. Back then, I was still living in innocent CCM fun. Since then, I've arrived in my first area. We travelled from the CCM to Huancayo two weeks ago in a double-decker bus, only holding us missionaries. We met one missionary who was returning from home after being out of action for a couple months. He'd been out in the field for a year before, so of course we peppered him with questions. I think his tall tales were meant to scare us, but they only enthralled us. What adventures and struggles lay ahead of us! Well, they were all no doubt true for him, but they were frankly a little silly. Two weeks in bed from altitude sickness? We were a little woozy for two days. I met my companion, Elder Chujo, then said a difficult goodbye to my good CCM friends. After a day of training with the mission president, I went off to Huanuco.
It's a dusty town surrounded by towering Peruvian mountains. I serve in the smallest area of the city. It's a strange conglomeration of lifestyles. I somewhat naively pictured the Shire when I dreamt of my service here. Are there peaceful pastures rolling into the mountains beyond? Well, yes. And do I see at times people who are genuinely half my height? Yes. And do the old women wear garish, bright outfits with munchkin caps? Yes, but sometimes you teach poor families who live with a dirt floor and a single bed and the pig outside the door is drowning out the lesson, but you don't know much Spanish so mostly you just make funny hand signals at a little deaf girl. This certainly isn't the Shire. It's a city of poverty with out-of-place agricultural elements. For here mixes a modern and carefree lifestyle with an older and more difficult lifestyle. It's a little more like home than you'd think in some ways, but a little more different in others. Everyone here rides either motorcycles or funny little moto-taxis that are tiny. It's pretty cool.
Last week we got to hike up in the mountains. We walked by pristine lakes, waterfalls, and rocky cliffs. Slopes and slopes of pale green mountains stretch on for as far as the eye can see. The geography of this place is magnificent, the sort you dream of when you hear of far-away places. I love looking up past the city while we're walking, especially at night. The houses that climb into the hills twinkle as the mountains fade into the same shade as the sky. A little higher, you see at times the dying embers of a wildfire pulsing in a quiet manner. And at last, you see the stars of a new and strange hemisphere dotting the sky. The temperature's just perfect.
Well, this is all well and good, but how goes the work? Everyone says the work is much slower than you'd think here. This is true. Aside from this month, our area hasn't seen a baptism since April, I believe. Well, yes, we had two this month before I came and two more planned for this week, but this is exciting and different. My Spanish is improving exponentially, though I'll still sound extremely silly for some time to come. The work is good, and hard, but it's worth it. Whenever it gets difficult, I can remember how grand a purpose we serve, and how much joy I need to share with these people.
Until next time, my friends. I'll try to send pictures.