Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Week Four: Proselyting

So at the beginning of the week, I was worried that I wouldn't have very many things to talk about because I am sort of starting to fall into a routine in the MTC.  But no problem, I have a lot now.

First of all, I think that the address that you have been sending letters to (assuming that people are writing me, haha) is for the field and that I will get them when I get there which will be in like a week and a half.  So that is fine to send letters to.  Even if you receive a letter from me from Lima, just respond to the Trujillo address.

Also, there is a big meeting of mission presidents on the day that I was supposed to leave the MTC so I will likely be leaving the Saturday before.  (I believe that is the 2nd).  So I will email from the MTC next week but that may be the last one until I am in the field.
These are some of Elder Grover and my absolute favorite people. In order: Elder Grover, Elder Quilcat, Elder Chavez, Elder Gonzalez

On Saturday, all of the missionaries got on a bus and went to North Lima to proselyte.  What an experience.  They tried to match North Americans up with Latino companions so that they would have the slightest clue what was happening.  When I went to see who my companion was it was.....Elder Grover.

We got assigned to Canto Rey which is a slum in North Lima next to a high security prison (sorry, Mom shouldn't have mentioned that). Since we were both North Americans, the 1st counselor in the local bishopric accompanied us.  We had a list of less active members or people who haven't attended church recently and spend 4 and a half hours walking around to check up on them.

First we visited Hermana Rosa and her family.  They were very nice but mumbled terribly and talked around 3 times faster than any person ever needs to.  I understood a little of what was happening when she told us that she has trouble getting to church because of her health.  I was able to share 1 Nephi 3:7 with her and explain that the Lord only gives us commandments that he will help us to keep.  It was a really spiritual experience to be able to communicate with her.

This was our room until this morning, when the Latinos left: Elder Dart, Elder Gonzalez, Elder Grover, Elder Arias, Elder Quispe, Elder Larson. Elder Larson is too big and his muscles scare me.
Next we visited Hermano Jorge Garcia.   He is eighteen and wants to serve a mission but has a lot of family issues.  We taught about the pure love of Christ.  The counselor in the bishopric guided the conversation but Elder Grover and I were able to bear our testimonies, pray, etc and were understood well.

Finally we taught Hermano Vladimir who was extremely friendly and has a dog named Lucifer. (He calls her Lucy.) He served a mission but has trouble making it to church.  We didn't have a lot of time with him but we said a prayer for him and committed him to come to church the next day.

The town was really fun to walk around in.  The people are very friendly and will talk to you even if they don't want to.  I don't think that many people hide or pretend not to be home like they do in the US.  All in all, it was a great experience and only one person slammed a door in our faces.

My Spanish is to the point where I can talk about roughly any topic really slowly and with a dictionary in my hand.  I am getting really excited for Trujillo because all of the teachers and Peruvians say that it is gorgeous.

Family, friends, kith, kin, I would like to introduce you to my new favorite pants.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Week Three: The District

We got new computers! They are like by far the nicest machines that I have ever used.  I feel like I'm in the future. But the keyboards are the same so I guess I'll use apostrophes again in two years.

Our new roommates are cool. Elders Dart and Larson are from Utah.  They are both wrestlers and a scary amount of buff so that's cool.  The two Latinos are Elder Arias from Argentina and Elder Quispes from Bolivia.  They are extremely nice and a lot calmer than the last ones were, haha.  I really like playing futbol with Elder Quispes.

There is a lot of cool stuff to buy in the stores by the temple.  I bought a couple of llama ties, a Peru jersey, a Libro de Mormon case, and some off brand TOMS.  I also got Spanish scriptures and a Spanish hymnal at the temple store.
This is some of the stuff that I have bought in Lima. A scripture case, some Alpaca ties, a coin purse, and a jersey. 

Our district is so much fun.  A district is a group of missionaries that pretty much do everything together in the MTC.  There are 141 missionaries in the Peru MTC but my classes are just the same 13 all day.  Which is fine by me because they are probably my favorite 13 people here.

Elder Couch is our district leader.  He's from California.  He is hilarious, makes extremely great faces, and handles leadership really well.  He has two companions because there are an odd number of people.  Elder Randolph is from Utah and gets along with Elder Grover and I really well.  And Elder Pincock is from Texas.  He has the most ridiculous laugh that I have ever heard in my life (sorry Maria).

Elder Richmond is from Michigan.  I get along with him really well and he is going to BYU when we get home so I imagine that we'll be friends.  His companion is Elder Toomer from Wyoming.  Elder Toomer is always singing Shakira and makes great The Office references.

Elder Taysom is from Arizona.  He is really clever and funny and takes amazing notes from devotionals and other meetings.  His companion is Elder Gardner from Louisiana who literally brought a Duck Dynasty poster with him to hang in his room.

Hermana Wickline is from South Carolina. She is really cool, listens to good music and is going to BYU as well. Her companion is Hermana Abbott from Maryland.  She plays piano and is really funny.

Hermana Dillon is from Idaho and makes some pretty strange faces, haha. Her companion is Hermana Osgood from California who wrote a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel just for fun.

A Latino in the last group taught Elder Gardner the phrase "Vos Papo" which is slang in Honduras for "you're crazy." So, that pretty much became our districts favorite phrase.  We always try to use it in example sentences and our teacher, Hermana Chipena thinks that it is hilarious.
Front Row: Hermana Osgood, Hermana Dillon, Hermana Wickline, Hermana Abbott.  Back row: Elder Taysom, Elder Pincock, Elder Gardner, Elder Grover, Elder Richmond, Elder Gonzalez, Elder Toomer, Elder Randolph, and Elder Couch.

The other day, we were leaving from dinner, and a table of teachers called us over.  One of them told us that President Cardon had heard us saying "Vos Papo"

and was furious because it meant something extremely offensive.  We got really nervous and started to try to explain what we thought it meant (because it was all in Spanish).  She yelled at us for like five minutes before she told us that she was joking.  Hermana Chipena had told her to do that!!!! Hermana Chipena laughed at us for the first 15 minutes of class and still likes to bring it up.  She is such a fun teacher.

All of the teachers are recently returned missionaries so most are mid to late 20s and still remember what it was like to serve really well.

My Spanish is doing really well.  I can feel myself speeding up and I'm starting to work on some more complex aspects like prepositions and things.

I miss everyone a ton but I am having a blast!

 The closer you look, the better it gets.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week Two: The Routine

Okay, so today is weird and they cut my email time into two half-hour segments. So if people could please send me their addresses ASAP, I might be able to write them down in my next chunk and send a letter on Monday. So here is part 1:

So if you want to send me a letter while I am in the MTC, the best way to do so is through "The Pouch" which is a church mail service.  You can just use a US stamp.  Google how to send a letter to missionaries through the pouch and you'll figure it out.  Or if you can't, make sure that you use an international stamp.  Also it takes a couple of weeks, so be patient.

Also, for those who don't know: P-day is Preparation Day.  I get to email, do laundry, get a haircut, exchange money, go to the temple, go shopping, etc. So I email every P-day.  I'll email again on Tue so look forward to that, haha. 

I thought you might want a run-down of my schedule so here you go.

I wake up at 6:30 every morning :(
Then I have to be in a suit and ready by 7 for breakfast
Personal study at 7:45 to read scriptures, plan lessons, etc.  Elder Grover and I decided to try to read the whole Book of Mormon while we are in the MTC and we are already in Alma 9!!!
We have classes with Hermano Granados at 8:30 until 12 which is lunch
Then we have two more hours of study time
At 3 we have an hour of physical activity, in which our entire district (our group of 13 missionaries) plays fútbol with Latinos.  How cool would that be if I just got way good at soccer while I was here?
Then after we shower and stuff, we have classes with Hermana Chipena who is like the funniest coolest teacher in the whole wide mundo!!!
Dinner is at 6 and then we have more classes/ teach fake investigators until 9.
At 9 we plan for the next day.
9:20 we get either fruit or ice cream
And we are supposed to be asleep by 10:30

The schedule is so busy that I hardly get a chance to think but I try to keep a bullet point list of what I want to email about.

Last Tue, we had a Area General Authority from Perú come and speak.  I think that his name was Hermano Colorre? He was phenomenal and talked about how much we sacrificed to be here.  It was really cool because the way he phrased it is that we left our school, friends, family, country, language, food, etc. to follow Christ which is exactly what the disciples did.  It was crazy to think of it like that!

General Conference was awesome of course. We got to watch all of the sessions and it was by far my favorite conference ever! (I'm going to use a lot of Mormon words in my emails so feel free to have Google in your next tab.)

Our district is awesome and I am so glad that I am in the one that I am in.  I'll send pictures of them and write more about them next week.

The Latinos are only here for two weeks so they left Tue morning.  We had two days of emptiness and the cafeteria served pizza and burgers, haha.  This morning, new people arrived so Elder Grover and I have two new roommates.  Two from Utah (their everywhere), one from Argentina, and one from Bolivia.

Anyway, I'm doing great. My Spanish is improving rapidly.  I'm studying a lot and learning how to teach.  Overall, I really like it here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Week One: Settling In

Okay everyone, here we go! 

A few items of business:

-The keyboard is wiggity wack so forgive any errors (there's a cop-out)
-I will write every Tuesday but the time will vary so don't worry if it's late.
-Next Tuesday is a holiday so they aren't letting us have a P-day (because we go to the temple, stores, etc. on P-day) so next week I will be writing on Thursday.
-Do not send any items here. Letters are fine but items will probably take longer than I will be here. No biggie if you already did but wait until I get out into the field. 
-I can't find a slot for my SD card so I am going to send pictures that Elder Grover uploaded from his camera and emailed me. Someday, I'll figure out how to send all of mine.

The MTC (here it is a CCM) is really nice. I think that it is pretty new so it feels really clean and well organized. It is very small. There are three buildings on the grounds around a courtyard. A building for classrooms/ dorm rooms, a cafeteria, and an administration building. There is a f'utbol field to the side. 

Overall, I packed really light. Most people have three suitcases. But I seem to have everything I need so I think that I am ok. I guess that I am just a minimalist, haha.

Elder Grover is awesome! We get along really, really well. He is pretty neat, keeps his things straight, and makes sure that we are on time to things which is good. Our personalities just seem to work really well together. 

The Latinos in our room are Elder Villarroel from Argentina, Elder Yamberlo and Elder Avalos from Ecuador, and Elder Pinedo from Per'u. They are only here for two weeks because they don't need to learn the language. They are hilarious but speak not even a single word of English. I have been able to communicate with them really well though. My Spanish is already to the point that if they talk slow and repeat a sentence two or three times, we can talk about almost anything. They are really curious about our lives and ask us a million questions about how things are in the states, how our families are, how we like Per'u, etc. Elder Pinedo from Per'u told us everything about our missions. He says that Trujillo is the best. He says the food is great, the weather is great, and the people are very humble and receptive to the Gospel (this is all in Spanish of course). They also keep joking and telling us that we will eat elephants, rhinos, spiders, children, etc. on our missions. 

The badge that says "Elder Gonzalez" is both a blessing and a curse. Everyone assumes that I should be completely fluent. So I have to explain my entire life situation a lot. But that is good because it makes me practice. 

One weird thing is what people thing when I tell them I am from Seattle. When I introduced myself to a Latino Elder named Elder Sanchez and told him I was from Seattle, he said, "Ahhh, si. Como iCarly." Apparently, that is what we are famous for, haha.

The food is super good. There are a couple things that I haven't liked but for the most part everything is great! They have passion fruit which is a way crazier fruit than I was expecting. You should all Google an image of it. It is what it would be like if frog eggs were delicious, sweet, and not a weird thing to slurp out of a rind.

Something that I wasn't expecting is that the focus is about ten times more on the Gospel and missionary work than the language. I guess that should have been obvious but it didn't really click until I got here. It is really cool though that we are learning Spanish for a purpose and with a really specific curriculum. Like lesson one was a street contact; how to introduce yourself as a missionary and start a simple conversation. Lesson two was how to pray in Spanish. So from now on, we have to introduce ourselves in Spanish and pray in Spanish every time. It is a really effective way of learning. I feel like I will be very close to fluent by the end of my time in the CCM.

We are teaching a return missionary who is playing the role of an investigator (someone interested in learning about the church) named Elisa Tejanda. She is great and really fun to teach. We taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel yesterday and it went really well so we set another appointment for tonight. 

P-day has been really interesting. We took a bud to the Lima Temple today which was great. The temple is really small but really beautiful. It was really neat to go through a new one. I am really excited to go to the one that will be done soon when I get to Trujillo. After the temple, we went to a store to buy a few things including Inca Kola which I am a big fan of. We did all of our laundry. We wrote a few letters. We swept our room. We switched our sheets and towels. It is our day where we can wear T-shirts and jeans but it feels crazier than the rest of them, haha.

Well that is as much as I can write right now because I only have an hour but I'll write more next Thursday! I love you all.

Elder Gonzalez