Monday, April 25, 2016

Divisions in Tarma

I spent a significant amount of time this week outside my area. We spent P-Day in Tarma again, but I remained there another day to do Divisions (splits) with one of our Zone Leaders as one of them returned with my companion, a District Leader.  Tarma is a large city in a valley, washing up in the hills surrounding the area. As we began our work, I noticed how much Zone Leaders have to worry about outside the normal work. As he spoke animatedly with the man who was renting the Hermanas' house trying to lower the price, and the Hermanas listened pensively, I stood quietly and patiently a little behind. Suddenly, a long line of children passed by led by a teacher on their way to school. Always enthused to see a gringo, one waved at me timidly. I waved back and greeted him cheerfully, which boosted the confidence of the other several dozen children. The conversation behind me stumbled for a few minutes as the street erupted into cheers and shouts and stilted "hel-lo's" until I waved the last one by. I enjoyed the divisions.

We only had a short break in the middle of the week before we were off once more to San Pedro de Cajas, the other area in our district. We are the two towns in the middle of nowhere, isolated by an hour or so from the others in the zone. San Pedro's, however, is even smaller than Junín (and much greener), half the population consisting of sheep. Rumor has it the town used to be called San Pedro de Cacas (Saint Peter of Poop) before some heroic citizen changed that vital ´c´ into a ´j´, turning Saint Peter´s dominion into the slightly less mundane Boxes. Their central plaza, like most, has some iconic statues- the central one is the patron saint with his finger and his thumb in the shape of an L dangerously close to his forehead. The other symbolizes the model citizen- a colorful old woman stooped over knitting away furiously, real yarn looped in her fingers. The other half of the population not grazing in pastures consists of similar women. We were there for two reasons- firstly for another set of divisions and secondly a Zone Attack. For difficult areas, sometimes the zone will designate a day in which all missionaries will arrive and contact nearly everyone, giving a jump start to the area. I'm a supporter in such acts of unity of the zone, and hope it did some good.

When we came back, a highlight included a Family Home Evening we had with our Pensionista and her daughter, not members of the church. Practically the whole branch came and we shared a message, played games, and generally had a good time. The daughter confessed some increased interest in the church recently and has been attending regularly. Unfortunately, she goes for Lima today. 

Well, it was a great week. I hope you all enjoyed the week too, and recognize the little good parts of life- for by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. Life is good!

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Memorable Week

Stone fences and half finished house frames furnish rocky green fields. The paved town center branches out into dirt roads as one passes by the Plaza of Arms (with great statues of old war heroes rearing on horses), the railway tracks, and street corner shops. Every Tuesday, a maze of a market appears with slick vendors shouting miracle cures and vegetables rolling around the ground. Men relieve themselves wherever and whenever nature calls, causing some wise property owners to hastily write "Urinating is Prohibited" on their walls. Sheep pass unhurriedly by, sometimes accompanied by a llama or two.

This week was memorable. We spent a good portion of one day installing our underground piping to get water in our house. We also had a busy week teaching a lot of less actives, which paid off. A decent number of them came to church, which made for a happy Sunday. I like serving in branches such as this. My last area certainly had its perks, but with a large ward it's hard to get to know the members. Here, we're in charge of the Young Men's program; the President of the Branch is always willing to help on visits; and we know nearly all the members by name. This is an area I'll remember, proved by an unexpected meeting in the little house of a member. We found a couple from Utah sitting on the couch chatting with the President of the Branch and others. Brother Newton, as it turned out, served here twelve years ago. He and his wife animated us, promised our work and assured us it would make a difference. It encouraged us to strengthen the branch, and we left certain we'd be the missionaries to do whatever it took to lift this branch back on its feet. We are incredibly grateful for their influence, and we are seeing miraculous changes occur in the area. 

We are here to overcome difficulties. And we will do so. Those with midnight consciences often only need someone to light a candle to recognize it's dark. With that, the sheep will shed wolves' clothing and the Shepherd will rescue them.

Monday, April 4, 2016


So I've been transferred to Junin this time around! I'm with an Elder Grandstaff (from Washington as well), and it's cold!  I bought a scarf, and luckily they've got a warm jacket for whatever missionary comes in here. We're also the only area that gets bikes in the mission...though one of my pedals doesn't work and the seat is at a 45 degree angle, haha-  we might be walking more than anything. 

We went to a city named Tarma for Conference, and we're here for the weekend with the zone. General Conference was, of course, a highlight for the week as I really enjoyed the talks. President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland's were definitely the most powerful for me. However, Elder Bednar's was also really cool and deserves extra study. I enjoyed that he says the way we retain the remission of our sins was by the Spirit. The promise in the Sacrament is the Spirit, and the way we retain a remission of our sins is by the Sacrament. It clicked for me. Elder Rasband's and Renlund's were cool for me, too. I liked that President Eyring told us to look for pure testimony in the conference and feel the spirit.