Monday, January 25, 2016

Mantaro, Huancayo

Another week goes by in Mantaro, Huancayo. I've finally told all my jokes to my first gringo companion (puns are hard to translate to Latinos). The chapel looks like a real chapel, and the ward council actually does everything they can to help us. The Elder from the office who deals with mail and packages eats with us, so what used to take about a month to get to me, now takes about a week. I also got a large bundle of letters that my training center back in Lima finally figured they'd send to me...six months later. With that, I can now triumphantly say I've completed the Sister Tryon Collection since the end of July- Huzzah (and thank you, Sister Tryon)! I also got a much anticipated letter from my good friend Michael Chaney, which made me incredibly happy. To all you friends who have written to me:  while SerPost is letting us receive letters alright, I hear we can't yet send them out. So while I have written you, I might not be able to send it for a while. Sorry!

I like my new zone- one of my new zone leaders is literally a 20-year-old version of Brother Calvert, my first seminary teacher. Makes me happy- same looks, same sense of humor, same everything, haha. I'm in the same zone as my old MTC companion, Elder Johnson, too, which is awesome. The area itself brings new people with whom we work. One is an old man who lost all cartilage in his shoulder and hip. He was converted about a year ago...he certainly must have been one memorable for the missionaries- changing someone from a practically homeless, drunk, cripple to a sober man who receives warm meals daily from members and can go to church weekly feeling respectable in a white shirt and tie must have been an amazing experience. As he can't read, we read the scriptures with him each day for a bit.

We also taught a man and his son who live way out in the outskirts of our area, where my agricultural vision of Peru is slightly more realized. A lot of the workers out there are actually employed by this man. The missionaries have been teaching him for a while, but this week we taught father and son together, and they both came to church! He hadn't come for about three months, so I'm hoping that together they'll begin in earnest. The ward is helping admirably to support them in friendship.

We had a worldwide mission conference, and I liked something Elder Bednar said: "The Spirit isn't our instrument for conversion, we're the instruments of the Spirit."  I felt this strongly this week as we were teaching a part-member family. We were focusing on the Dad, and I started in on Joseph Smith's first vision, manifesting that miracles and revelation are possible in this day just as much as the past. This time particularly, I felt an incredible power in the words pulsing through me and transforming the lesson. I wanted to keep that moment going for as long as I lived. The father met my eyes, and I could see him feel the witness we promise to people confirming the truthfulness of the message. However, in time he shook it off and basically said, "wow that's really cool... thank you very much... I'll definitely read the Book of Mormon which is interesting because I know a lot about ancient American history which I'll now demonstrate, and if you try talking good luck because I'll just keep going." I felt sad that he so feebly tried to escape what he felt, but my companion told me that the daughter we've been trying to baptize had been utterly riveted by the Spirit she felt in the account, hanging on every word we spoke. I'd been focused on the wrong person, but the Spirit nevertheless did the work He knew was necessary. And that's the lesson we'll always find to be true. As long as we do our best to help others, the Spirit will ensure that what really has to happen will be accomplished. Go watch the video of The Restoration and just listen to what you feel. It will be powerful. I love you all, and hope you're all doing well. Adios for now!