Monday, December 15, 2014

Week Sixty-Four: A Mission is Like a Basketball Game...

Hello folks,

So this was a crazy week full of trainings and meetings and really important things to do with minimal time to do them, but those weeks are fun.

We had a zone training this week. Elder Boekweg and I wanted to teach everyone about discouragement and why it is important to have the right attitude. So for a part of the training, we brought everyone outside and we had them play a five minute game of basketball. The catch was that we put small pebbles in one team's shoes. At the end, we talked about how the mission is like a basketball game in that we have to work together and achieve things but that all in all it should be enjoyable and edifying as well. Our zone has a lot of missionaries that are going home in the next 2 to 3 months and we want them excited and working hard until the end.

So far, I have been enjoying this Christmas season a lot more than the last. My area is a little better off economically than Cartavio so there are actually a few people who have put up Christmas lights. Our ward is a little stronger so there will be more Christmas activities. I live in a room of four people so we are always eating the Christmas packages that arrive. Not that I didn't love my Cartavio Christmas but I think that being more accustomed to the mission allows you to enjoy it more. Hope that you are all enjoying the festivities as well.

Merry Christmas (Happy Channukah, David),
Elder Gonzalez

Also, these are the 4 Elders that live in our room: Elder Lopez (Oaxaca Mexico), Elder Grant (Monroe Utah), Elder Boekweg and I.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week Sixty-Three: Dirty, Ugly, Piece of Trash, Farmer

Hey everyone!

This was another great week down here in sunny, baking, humid Chimbote. (Its been getting hotter). On Wednesday, we had a mission leadership council. That is a monthly meeting in Trujillo that all of the zone leaders go to. President and Sister Marler and the assistants teach us about the vision of the mission and then we transmit that to our own zone. To get to Trujillo in time we had to wake up at 4 in the morning. Did you guys know that there is no water in Chimbote at 4 in the morning? However, it was well worth it.  We learned a lot about the importance of unity and how to stay excited about the work. That'll be great for this zone to hear.

Afterwards, we went and did a service project in a part of Trujillo called Esperanza. We went to an underprivileged school and helped the kids clean the grounds of the school and plant trees. President Marler planted a tree at the front and said that when it is bigger, we will come back and transplant it to the temple grounds in Trujillo. It was way fun to get to play with kids. Kids are always cute, funny, and filter-less. (One of them called E Boekweg a dirty, ugly, piece of trash, farmer.)

I hope that everyone is having a great Christmas season and I hope to continue receiving all of your family Christmas tree pictures.

Love you all!!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week Sixty-Two: The Stake Dwelt in a Tent

We had a pretty insane week here in Chimbote. The mission has asked us to evaluate the rooms that our missionaries are living in and the places that they are eating at and make sure that they are all up to standard (not gross and that no one from the opposite sex lives there). We found a few problems and helped 2 companionships find a new room and move into it and 4 companionships find a new pensionista and switch. (Crazy week).

We also had a stake conference so big that we filled the chapel, the overflow, and the relief society room it was being broadcast into and a giant tent behind the church with a couple of hundred more. It was sooooo full.

We are starting to get excited for Christmas here. I still don't have any firm plans set but last week, Elder Boekweg and I bought a Christmas tree. Challenge: Could everyone who reads this, whether you know me or not, take a picture of yourself or your whole family in front of your Christmas tree and send it to me with your name and what state/country you are in? That'd be sweet.

Also, the Church is doing a sweet world-wide campaign called He is the Gift. If any of you haven't seen it yet, click .... HERE: 

Have a great week and go exercise after all that you ate on Thanksgiving. Love you all.

Elder Gonzalez

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week Sixty-One: Living in Zion!

So... I think that I am in Zion.

I am in the city of Chimbote. It's a larger city. I pertain to the neighbourhood of El Carmen. El Carmen is cool because it goes up a hill. Half is nicer than Cartavio and Chao (I sit on couches when I teach instead of plastic stools) and the other half is way more ghetto. It is really fun to have the contrast and it is really fun to walk on hills. I missed it.

The ward is incredible. We get between 150 and 190 every week. The members are extremely converted and always introduce us to their friends and references. Example: On my first day here, I was given a slice of tres leches cake on three different occasions. Our ward mission leader takes us around in his pick up Sunday mornings to round up investigators. Being a zone leader, I get to work with the stake president a lot and I am told that he is the best one in the mission.

Being a zone leader is pretty different. Our zone is HUGE and has 11 companionships in it. It's so big that we each have to have a phone to manage it. I do a lot less tracting. My schedule is the same but I OFTEN get calls of things that I have to attend to immediately. Meetings with President (I have to be there), broken showers (I have to fix them), sick missionaries (I have to get them medicine), packages sent from Trujillo (I have to sign for them at the bus stop), weekly indicators (I have to send them in), etc. I thought that that would bug me but the Lord lets you teach the most important people and everyone else just kinda slips away or taken care of by someone else. It is really rewarding and a fun change of pace.

Elder Boekweg is my ideal companion. He is 20 years old and he is a pig farmer from Lincoln Utah (a town of 150 people). That kind of gave him Kurt Cobain disorder and he turned to music. He is a great guitarist and singer but above all a fantastic song writer. I am going to learn a lot from him. He is patient, experienced, exactly obedient, and hilarious. He is going to BYU after the mission as well. He finishes the mission at the end of March with E Leavitt so there is a good chance that I just stay with him here until then which we would both be way down for.

Everyone always tells me that these emails are always way upbeat and I guess that's true. But it's because the Lord has just kept blessing me with great areas, members, companions, and experiences and I'm just super happy.

Hope that everyone has a great week. If you have any questions about Chimbote or about leading zones, shoot 'em on over. Love y'all

Elder Gonzalez

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Week Sixty: Moving...

So Im moving....

On Friday night, I got a call from President Marler and he asked me to be one of the zone leaders of the mission. It was a HUGE shock and I was bummed to have left Chao so fast but I was really excited to get the opportunity to do something new but I still didn't know where I was going.

Then, I went to a meeting in the mission home yesterday which was one of the most spiritual meetings of my mission and I was given my assignment. I'm going to be serving in the zone of: Chimbote Perú. It is a really cool part of the mission and I'm going to be in a ward for the first time in my mission where about 150 people attend. That'll be really different for me. I dont know that much yet, I'll tell you next week.

My companion is going to be Elder Boekweg (Bow-kweg). Get this: He is Elder Leavitt's companion from the MTC and was then Elder Leavitt's companion in the office. If you back about a year on the blog, there are a lot of pics of him. He is from Utah (thats 4 out of 5 comps, haha) and he is a great musician. We are already really good friends and I literally don't think that I could have picked a comp in this whole mission that I would have wanted more than E Boekweg.

I am bummed to leave Chao and E Craft but I COULD NOT be more excited about where I am going. I am going to LOVE it. Can't wait to tell you all about it next week.

Also: About the picture, a man wrote that on a pamphlet that we gave him. It says: Mormons don't believe in the word of God. That same man went to prison for having an illegal weapon the very next day. #dontmesswiththemormons.

Love you all,
Elder Gonzalez

Week Fifty-Nine: Random Waterfall

We had a phenomenal week here in Chao.

Last Monday, after I wrote y'all, we got in an old van and drove an hour and a half up a mountain. We then found a random girl up there and payed her to take our whole zone to a waterfall that she knew about. The hike was about an hour and a half as well and my legs got rallied with bug bites but it was really pretty and really fun to hike again. But I still miss the Pacific Northwest.

We taught the Word of Wisdom to Aurelia and it turns out that she had heard a rumor about it so she just started living it because she decided that it must be true. She also instituted family prayer without any prompting from us or anyone else.

A woman who has attended church for 4 years but whose husband has refused to marry her finally got her husband to agree to marry her as soon as someone sends him his birth certificate from the mountains.

Our angelic pensionista Flor gave us 9 referrals to visit.

We had an attendance of 87 people in church (it was 51 when I first got to Chao)

We have been going around teaching the converts of the last year and seeing if the Lord has prepared any of their family members and we found a really cool older sister of a convert. The convert'
s name is Antonella and her 24 year old sister is Marilu. She is keeping her commitments and accepted a baptism date so well see what happens with her.

Elder Craft and I are working hard, excited for Christmas, and pumped to be here.

Love you all,
Elder Gonzalez

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Week Fifty-Eight: My Halloweenery

You Americans go so hard in your Halloweenery. Halloween is just starting to get here to Peru. Trick or treating isn't here yet. Creative costumes aren't here yet. All it is is that most high schools put on a Halloween party and everyone goes wearing the same scream mask, haha.

Since the four missionaries in the Chao branch are Americans, we put on a Halloween movie night where we showed Corpse Bride and made a bunch of popcorn and passed out a bunch of candy. (Hope you're proud, Lillian). We had a lot of people there and everyone loved the movie.

It ended up that Halloween was the first holiday that I was gone for so it is the first one that I have already spent two in Peru of. So see you all next Halloween.

We had a pretty good week this week. One of our very coolest investigators made it to church for the first time and stayed for all three hours. She is the BEST. We gave her a Book of Mormon and the very next day, she had already covered it in that plastic stuff. Her name is Aurelia and she is pretty great!

Love you all!

Elder Gonzalez

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week Fifty-Seven: When I Had Scurvy

So not a ton happened this week.

Elder Craft's training is winding to a close. I've been training him for 9 weeks now and he only has three more. There is a chance that either one of us could leave right after. But if we stay, we stay until Christmas. This month has been kind of hard for the work because there have been a lot of meetings and other things that have interfered with just being out in the street preaching all day. With elections, general conference, and the stake conference that we just had, church has been different every week and things have felt a little inconsistent. If I stay with E Craft until Christmas, we are going to go hard and I think that we could get at least a couple of full family baptisms.

E McClellan and I mixing paint for a service. It stained my hands green and it looked like I had scurvy.

Not much more to tell. The mail strike is over though so letters are welcome!!!!

Love you all,
Elder Gonzalez

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week Fifty-Six: Elder Raft

So this week was pretty normal...except for Saturday. On Saturday the 18th of October 2014, Elder Craft became Elder Raft.

It all started when he felt the Spirit and decided to knock on a random door. As we are knocking, a little Peruvian child who is covered in dirt comes up, rings the doorbell, and out of nowhere...LICKS Elder Craft's hand. Elder Craft was so disgusted that he yelled at the kid in English and told him NEVER to lick his or anyone else's hand again.

Then, I felt the Spirit and decided to knock on a door. A 20 year old girl opens the door, gets a really surprised look on her face and starts flirting so hard that we had to just walk away. I have never seen a human person flirt so hard.

Then we saw a less active member of the ward. He turned and looked at us and we saw him with a beer in his hand and a cigarette in his mouth. Then he gave us the cold shoulder instead of even waving and turned around.

Later that day, we went to talk to a lady that lives on the calle Huascar. We hate going to the calle Huascar because this other little kid lives on it who thinks that it is funny to walk up and slap Elder Craft. As we are talking to this woman named Cecilia, the kid walks up next to us. We can't do anything because we are currently talking to this woman so we leave him there. Then it happened. I shook Cecilias hand and got out alive. Elder Craft goes to shake her hand and as he is shaking it, WHAP. The kid jumps and come down on E Crafts forearm with a burning hand of glory.

After this day, Elder Craft decided that he cannot continue living as Elder Craft and will need to change himself in order to function. That is how Elder Raft was born.

Also, while I was in Trujillo for Pday, I found a box of Corn Flakes that had a smaller box of Corn Flakes as a prize. They aren't creative enough to make toys here, haha.

Love you all,
Elder Gonzalez

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Week Fifty-Five: General Conference!

So conference was pretty stellar. Sorry that I'm kind of late to the game on that one but like I explained last week, the elections kind of ruined that for everyone here. I'm running out of time so I'll just say that I learned a ton, ate a lot of snacks, and partied in the little English-speaking barricade that we made upstairs.

If anyone wants to hear my favorite talk from the conference, they can listen to my main man Jorgen VonStrangle: 

Hope that you all have a great week!!!
Elder Gonzalez

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week Fifty-Four: Elections and Pranks!

So this week was elections week. In case you were wondering: no, they are not anything like elections in the United States. First of all, there are more than two parties, there are about 4 or 5 main ones but even a little guy can get pull based on three things: 1. The amount of free stuff (beer openers, t-shirts, and matchboxes), 2. The number and swag level of their crazy rallies that include a salsa band, and 3. The number of people in giant Ben 10 and Angry Birds costumes that you have in your parades. Also, FYI, you should probably start going hard around February if you want any chance of winning.

On actual voting day, it is mandatory to vote. Like they don't care if you are an informed voter or not but you have to vote or there is a fine. And you have to vote where you drivers license says that you live. And they stopped accepting changes in address about 3 months ago. So if you aren't living where the government thinks that you are, you have to get home. Also, the government randomly selects random table presidents to be in charge of voting which cannot be turned down. Our branch president got picked.

It was a rough week because a lot of the people that we teach traveled home to vote and all of the news that we found were just here to vote.

The best thing that happened this week though was a sweet prank that we pulled. The day before voting, you HAVE to take down all voting propaganda or there is a big fine. We got our hands on a GIANT sign, cut out the dude in it and taped it above E Muguerzas bed while he was sleeping. Around 3 am, the tape gave out and he woke up with a giant man on him. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Other news: I was looking at my family history and I found a line that goes all the way back to Adam. Yeah, that Adam. Not Levine. The father of all living. So that's cool.

Love you all!!!!1
Elder Gonzalez

Week Fifty-Three: The Burning of the Suit Coat

So this week was pretty normal. Well not really but nothing surprises me anymore.

The highlights were: 
Burning a suit coat with E McClellan for our one year mark
Last Monday after internet, we went for a sweet hike here in Chao
While the women were in the women's session of General Conference, all of the Priesthood went out to a really good chicken restaurant.
We moved adobe bricks into an adobe house
We went to a meeting for all of the new missionaries that was really fun.

Deforestation is real and we have to do something. #AssembleWashingtonianBrethren  

Super misjudged my time this week. Sorry y'all.

FYI: This Sunday are the elections in Peru so we will be watching General Conference next week. Send me your favorite talk so I can pay more attention, haha.

Peace out,
Elder Gonzalez

Right before it started smoking a horrible black smoke and we had to put it out and evacuate

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week Fifty-Two: In Which a Missionary Quotes Barenaked Ladies (The Band)

Holy cow guys. It's been one year since:
- I've slept in
- I've drank soda from a can
- I've been barefoot on carpet
- I've touched a banjo
- I've seen an Asian
- I've had a glass of milk
- I've swam
- I've gone 24 hours without eating rice
- I've read fiction
- I've seen melted cheese
- I've logged into Facebook
- I've driven a car
- I've had earbuds in my ears
- I've been thrift shopping
- I've been out in the rain
- I've pledged allegiance to a flag
- I've seen a DVR
- I've cooked for myself
- I've missed a day of scripture study

And one week since:

- You looked at me

Five days since:

- The living room

Three days since:

- You smiled at me

And it'll still be two days till we say were sorry.

It's been a pretty fast and crazy year and I'm sure that the next one will be pretty loco as well. I hope that you've all been good this last year and that you have another 365 days of magic and wonder. I love you all a ton.

Elder Gonzalez

PS. Birchmount stadium; home of the robbie

(This is a reference to the song One Week by Barenaked Ladies. I've gotten too many questions not to let you all know, haha)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week Fifty-One: The Beach

Line of the week: "Sociology is learning about human relations while not having to have any relations with humans." -Lillian Gonzalez

So Chao is pretty much just the most fun in the world. Living in the same little town with 6 missionaries is WAY fun. Every meal just feels like a little feast. Then we all split up, go out to preach, aquire some crazy stories and meet back up for the next meal to share them. The missionaries who are here right now are literally 6 of the coolest missionaries in the whole mission and I never ever have to worry that they arent working hard.

E Craft and I are still just having a lot of fun. We found a really nice little family a couple of weeks ago that moved here from the jungle. The parents are named Henry and Grimanesa and their kids are Grecia (7), Henry Jr. (4), and a baby who is like 6 months whose name I am blanking on. I think that its like Adrian or something. Anyway, they all came to church this week and last week and a couple of days ago. Henry told us that Monday (today) was his 30th birthday and asked if we could come over since he doesnt have that many friends. E Craft and I invited some people from the branch and were going to buy him a cake and see if we cant just fellowship the daylights out of this punk.

Today for Pday, we are going to the beach. We cant swim so I imagine that well just goof off and get sand everywhere and then we will be cleaning sand out of the shower for the next 3 changes.

Hope that you are all having fun in your new year of school, making new friends, getting along with your teachers, and eating well balanced meals.

Love you,

Elder Gonzalez

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Week Fifty: WEEK FIFTY!!!

Did someone say "Week 50"?

So this week was a pretty crazy one. I got to go to a leadership meeting in Trujillo. That was inspiring, insightful, and a ton of fun. I got to see a lot of my good mission friends that I dont get to see very much including E Leavitt and E Flores. We talked about the vision that the mission has right now and I think that it helped us all get on the same page.

Yesterday was like the best Sunday ever in my mission.  We brought 5 investigators and Chao II (E Meaker and E Farnsworth) brought another 4. Between the four of us, we also brought another 6 members who hadnt been to church in a long time. The members are seeing the vision and everytime a new person came in, the members actually fought with each other about who was going to sit next to them and be their friend. It was the best.

E Craft is seriously like the coolest comp ever. I think that you guys will hear a lot of great E Craft lines. One sweet story that he told me this week. "Me and 3 friends who were in a Guitar 1 class together decided that even though none of us could sing or play the guitar we should start a band. So we did. We were called The Park Rangers and we only played songs about animals. Our big hit was Mouse House but I think that our jem was Moose on the Loose." That kid just cracks me up.

Anyway, love you all and I hope that you have a great week and that you are all having a great time in your new classes with all of your new little friends.

E Gonzalez

Friday, September 5, 2014

Week Forty-Nine: Hey There, Mr. Egg-Head

Great week.

So I'm training E Craft.

Me and E Craft

He's from Pleasant Grove, Utah. He is 18 and he's a Mormon. Seriously though he is the greatest. We'll be comps at least into November and I'm down. Here's an example of a great E Craft moment: "When I play rock paper scissors, I always choose scissors. Sometimes, it works." The man is a savage. He's excited, bold, funny and the people here already like him. I think that he will be one of my funnest comps in the mission.

My "family history"

Chao got split in 2 and E Meaker came to open it with his new son, E Farnsworth. E Meaker is from Blaine, Washington and E Farnsworth is from Miami, Florida. I cant even tell you guys how great it is to have a Washingtonian around that knows about Taco Time and loves the smell of lavender. And even though E Farnsworth is new, he knows a ton of Spanish. Fun fact: Peruvians don't have the mouth muscles required to say the word "Farnsworth".

E Meaker and E Farnsworth

E Craft is a lucky dog and got to baptize on his very first Saturday of the whole mission (I'm kind of the best dad ever). Her name is Juana and her 8 year old grandson was baptized by E Walker a while ago but she never listened. We started focusing on her and she decided to get baptized. It was awesome.

Juana's baptism

My birthday was great. Aside from the fact that we baptized, there is a tradition in Peru where on your birthday, people throw eggs on your head. My pensionista Flor and her husband, Overt, were nice enough to let me take my tie off but I still could not escape taking about 20 eggs to the head. It was hilarious and gross and took about three showers to get out of my hair. My pensionista is the best.

Flor and Overt and the cake they bought me to make up for egging the heck out of me

Thanks for all of the birthday wishes sent, emailed, and thought. It's been almost a year and it seems like no one forgot about me, haha. Y'all are the best. I'm not a fan of being 20 though. E McClellan has been making a lot of old man jokes.

Eggs are gross

Monday, August 25, 2014

Week Forty-Eight: Komo 4 Problem Solvers

So I'm writing this email first because I have a lot of news. This might impede my time to respond to each of you so if I don't get to, I will next week.

First things first: One more HUGE thank you for the photo album. It is absolutely incredible and makes me remember how dope y'all are.

Also, just wanted to give a little review of the week. Baptismal dates were set. Baptisimal dates fell. Baptismal dates were reestablished. Baptismal dates were put off for later. Baptismal dates were reaccepted. Baptismal dates were hesitantly accepted with faith. Basically, it was just an extremely draining week spiritually that required a lot of faith and problem solving. I think that I'm fit to be one of the Komo 4 Problem Solvers when I get home.

This week, we got to have a devotional with Elder Andersen (one of the Twelve modern Apostles). We got to shake his hand and then he talked to us for a while. Elder Soares and Elder Wadell from the 1st Quorom of the Seventy were also there. That was a pretty remarkable experience.

Also, its been another six weeks and it's changes time. These ones got loco. So, E Walker is leaving to Trujillo. I am going to train a brand new missionary. I don't know who he is or where he's from yet (I find out tomorrow) but I'm excited.

Other news, we split our area in half. Two missionaries are going to come and take over half. That'll help us focus twice as hard on half of the space. Opening that area started a new district (group of 6 missionaries) and they called me as the district leader. My district are the 4 that live in our room and the 2 new ones that are coming.

My responsibilities as district leader include: taking numbers, doing interchanges, and doing baptismal interviews.

That's all of my news for this week. Love you all and hope to be able to respond to you all. We'll see.

Elder Gonzalez

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Week Forty-Seven: Pictures and Sappy Letters

Dear beloved humans,

I got that photo book that you all participated in. It came kind of early but I was not about to wait.  You are all literally the best. By far the best birthday present ever. How'd y'all know that I love pictures and sappy letters. You all know me so well.

It means the world to me that you all read these every week. I feel like they are all short and boring and dumb (speaking of which I have 2 mins left) but I love you all.

LOVE YOU SEATTLE (and those who aren't in Seattle)

Elder Gonzalez

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Week Forty-Six: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Well I actually just forgot to write a weekly email and now I only have 2 minutes left.

It's not that time ran's just that I forgot.

Well the week was pretty normal. We taught a ton of news (9). They are all really cool and now our schedule is really full trying to teach them all.

Today is going to be a really boring p-day. A carpenter is coming to make our bathroom door swing out instead of in because it has been smacking against the toilet and causing plumbing problems so we have to sit in the room all day while he works.

Anyway, mostly just wanted to wish my mom a super happy birthday this Saturday. Love you, MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Gonzalez

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Week Forty-Five: Devil-George

Line of the week goes out to Brendan Smith: " Hello, hello. I don't know why you say goodbye I say hello. Sometimes I feel like that when I contact people on the street. But whatever:)" 

Also, fun fact: This keyboard has no punctuation but since I could never right a colon-less email, I am copying a pasting in all of the punctuation from past emails.

This week was amazing. I taught more lessons, met more new people, brought more people to church, etc than I have in the last 10 months. It just got me so pumped. I know that if I start really strong here like I did in Cartavio, Ill be able to see some of the results before I leave like I did in Cartavio.

Other missionaries here in the zone are awesome and hilarious. We play soccer as a zone every Monday and Friday at 5:30 am. That means that I have to wake up at 5 twice a week. I dont know how many of you have met devil-George but we can just say that Im not a morning person. But its actually worth it and a ton of fun.

I miss Seattle and I miss you all,
Elder Gonzalez

Monday, July 28, 2014

Week Forty-Three and Forty-Four: Chao

So last week, I had at ton of stuff to tell you all so I wrote a really long, interesting, funny message. However, when I tried to send didnt. I knew it didnt but I didnt have time to do anything about it. A few months ago, I would have flipped my biscuits but I have been gaining a lot of patience.

Anyway, Chao is dope. It is a small Cartavio-sized town that is almost the exact same distance from Trujillo in a southward direction that Cartavio was in a northward direction. It has a little bit more of a hustle and bustle vibe than Cartavio. It is in a different agricultural buisiness however. Instead of hearing nothing but fábrica, fábrica, fábrica, now I hear nothing but Camposol, Camposol, Camposol. Camposol is a company that grows and harvests produce which means men, women, and teenagers alike all get paid minimum wage to pick avacados, bananas, and asparagus all week.

My pensionista is AWESOME. Her name is Flor and we eat in her restaurant. Thats right 2 restaurants in a row. Her husband, Overt, is the brach president and she has two daughters, Keyla and Maite. I love this family. They are so cool.

I live in a room with 2 companionships of missionaries. We all live in Chao but E McClellan and E Muguerza go to Nuevo Chao everyday while E Walker and I stay in Chao.

E McClellan: He is from Brigham City, Utah. He is actually from my group. When I first got to Cartavio, he got to Chicama (a neighbouring city). We already know each other and we have a lot in common so we get along super well. We are becoming super good friends.

E Muguerza: He is brand new. He started his mission when I got here to Chao. He was raisied in the city of Chimbote which is actually in this mission about an hour from here. He left to Argentina and got baptized there so he sent in his mission papers and they called him back to his home. Its a little hard for him because he is an hour away from his mom who he hasnt seen in years but he is doing well.

E Walker: He is from Springville, Utah. He has 6 weeks less than me in the mission and he is still in his first area. That means that we will probably only be together through August but we are going to work hard.

This is the first time ever that there have been 4 obedient, hard working misisonaries here and President Marler, our branch leaders, and pretty much everyone expects to see a TON of growth here over the next little bit.

Well, I hope that that was long enough to make up for last week.

Fun fact: Right here as Im typing, the internet place is playing, "I Kissed a Girl"

Love you all,
Elder Gonzalez

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week Forty-Two: In Which I Reference the Cup Song

I'm going to write this first because I have a lot to talk about so I am REALLY sorry if I don't get to respond to some of your personal emails but I'll get there next week.

I. A thank you: Thanks a ton to team #prayforfleming. He was baptized on Saturday. His brother came up from Trujillo to baptize him and even though he and his brother are the only members, his whole family came to support him. He and his brother shared their testimonies and the Spirit was super strong.

E Flores, his brother, his mommy, Fleming, me

II. An anecdote: This Sunday, we had a meeting and so all of the local leaders were stressing over the World Cup. Our branch president leaned over to me and asked me who I wanted to win. I said Argentina because everyone in Latin America wanted Argentina to win. And he said, "I want Germany to win because one of the Apostles is from Germany and the pope is from Argentina." I laughed way louder than I should have due to the reverence of the meeting that we are in.

III. Crazy life changing news: I'm leaving Cartavio. Bum bum bum. E Flores is going to train a new missionary in my place and I am going to...Chau. Chau is a little town in Viru that is where E Flores came from four months ago. I'm going to his old area to be with his old companion that he trained, Elder Walker. ¡Qué locaso!  

That's about half of all of the crazy stuff that has happened this week but my head's not on straight because I'm half packed, and I have to run all over Cartavio to pass out photos with my name and email. But I think that they're going to miss me when I'm gone. They're going to miss me for my hair. They're going to miss me everywhere. They're going to miss me when I'm gone.

Love you all a ton. I added pictures of the current entries for the Elder Gonzalez Loves America Contest. Keep sending them in. Take care.
By Paul and Debbie Gregg

By my mommy

By Karen Gale

Elder Gonzalez

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week Forty-One: Proud To Be An American

Dear America,

You are a pretty great country. I missed you this week. I hope that everything is good over there and that you are still free and stuff. Thanks for Costco and for liberty. Sorry about Miley Cyrus and contamination and other reasons that people complain about you. I still love you America. I think it's cool that we pledge allegiance to our flag. I think that the US dollar bill looks a lot more like real credible money than any other piece of colorful paper that can be printed. I think that it's kind of funny how big and powerful we are and I'm glad to be an American. Most of all, America, I just want you to know that I sang the national anthem really loud in the shower on Friday morning.

Photoshop contest: Whoever sends me the best 4th of July/America themed Photoshop of this photo will receive a hand written letter from Peru. Oooh.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Week Forty: ...Interesting...

This week was pretty...interesting. Our numbers would make you think that we did absolutely nothing this week but we actually just did a bunch of things that aren't reflected in the numbers.

The district playing pool

1. We helped in a family history fair for three hours helping people find information about their ancestors.

2. We had a stake conference which here since all of the different wards and branches live so far away, turns into a valley conference. We held it under a tent outside and it was the most pioneery/early Mormony that I have ever felt to travel with the Saints and then hold a conference under a tent and sing hymns and listen to our leaders address us.

3. Hipólito Lezama, a 90 year old member of our branch passed away when he fell on his face in the bathroom. My companion and I: cleaned the blood off of him, dressed him, put him in the coffin, attended the viewing, attended the funeral, carried the coffin on our shoulders from the church to the cemetery and then sang hymns while they slid him into the catacombs. So that was pretty wacky.

The Cartavian army in route to the conference

Also, I don't know why but I think that the Church's "I'm a Mormon" campaign might be one of the coolest things of all time and I really loved this video:

Until next week: Love you all and don't go to the bathroom if you are home alone.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week Thirty-Nine: #prayforfleming

This week I decided that I am going to tell you about one of the people that I am teaching. His name is Fleming. Lets take a moment to appreciate how funny it is that his name is Fleming.

Fleming is a man in his fifties who has lived in Cartavio his whole life. He works in the factory (surprise) and also owns his own little shoe store. He is friends with our pensionista Ligia from high school and knows a lot of other members that work in the factory.

He is married but his wife and children live in Lima. His wife earns a lot of money at her job in Lima and Fleming earns a lot of money at his job in Cartavio. Neither one has enough faith in the relationship to drop everything and move. They are still technically together but they each want the other to move which causes a lot of tension.

Ligia invited him to church and bore her testimony about how much it could help him and how much it helped her when she left the father of her kids. He came to church and is loving the lessons. His brother is a return missionary so he can see several examples of happy active church members.

The only problem: he is starting to fall in love with Ligia. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. But seriously though. She would never even go on a date with him until he gets divorced but it just makes the situation funny.

He has a really goofy sense of humor. Our goal is to change him from the main character at the beginning of a Jim Carrey movie to the main character at the end of a Jim Carrey who has a good relationship with his wife and son while still being goofy. He accepted a baptism date for the 12th of July.

So pray for Fleming. #prayforfleming

Elder Gonzalez

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Week Thirty-Eight: Three Ways to Open a Bottle Without a Bottle-Opener

Hey everyone,

This week was a good one. On Friday, I got to go to Trujillo to see Elder Whitney Clayton from the Presidency the Seventy and President Uceda from the Area Presidency. Both were incredible. They asked to shake each one of our hands and we each had a little one minute conversation with them and their wives. They talked to us about how to help people in a way that when we leave, they will be okay. A lot of missionaries have left a lot of people that have fallen away from the Church and are in all kinds of trouble. There isn't too much of a point in two years of service if the results aren't permanent. It was a great devotional and we have a lot of plans to improve.

Also, I thought I'd let you all know that I know three ways to open glass bottles without a bottle opener. One, with a fork. Two, with a ring. Three, with a door-frame. I plan on putting that on my resume.

Hope that everyone had a good Father's Day. Everyone in Peru just gets drunk a little earlier.

Love you all,
Elder Gonzalez

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week Thirty-Seven: Lack of Crazy Stories

Not a ton to tell you all this week.

We are living in Hna Ligias house for a month while we look for something else. It's a full house instead of the little room that I was used to but I'm trying not to get used to it. The bathroom is teeny and smells weird but we have a kitchen that we only use to brush our teeth and we are living in the front room, haha.

I've crash-landed on a strange planet

Crazy stuff happens every week but I never know how to tell the stories over email. So just know that when I get home, I'll tell you all about when we sang praises with an evangelist or when a man screamed, "MY MOMMA LOVES ME!" in the middle of a lesson or when I spoke at a funeral or some other crazy things that happened just in this week.

Until then, I'll just tell you all that you are cool and that I love you.

Elder Gonzalez

PS. RIP The Lonely Forest

Monday, June 2, 2014

Week Thirty-Six: Transfers...?

Well, I packed up my bags and I am leaving today.

Last night were the changes. I had already written goodbye letters and printed out pictures for the members when the call came and they told me that I am staying... I am staying! Staying! That means that I'll likely leave in July after being in Cartavio for 8 and a half months. That's crazy talk.

Then, this morning, we count out the money and walk out of the room to pay the landlady and two random people that I've never seen before start yelling at me. It turns out that they are family of the landlady. They told us that we need to pay more or leave. We pay 200 soles for a room just like everyone else in the mission but we don't even have water all of the time. They started yelling and after a really REALLY heated conversation that got kind of Mexican soap opera-y, they told us that we need to leave today. If you would have told me a year ago that one day I would get into a yelling match with a Peruvian couple in Spanish, I would have called you silly.
My face when they told me that I had to leave

So instead of changing from Cartavio to another area like I thought, I am going from 28 de Julio to the calle Ramos, haha. Did not see that one coming. The lady who feeds us, Ligia, is the closest thing to a saint that I have ever met and I think that she is going to move into her office and give us her house for a month and in July, well move into a room that is in construction right now.

So today's going to be pretty nuts and I'm going to spend the whole Pday moving but I'm excited to get to keep working in Cartavio and keep making new Cartavio friends.

Love you all,
Elder Gonzalez

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Week Thirty-Five: Jello Man, Baptisms, and June 1st

Three things for all of my homies out there.

I. I judge from your emails that there is a significant number of you who have taken a strange pleasure out of the Jello Man. (If you dont know what Im talking about, go back a ways). Lillian challenged me to get a picture with him and even though it was awkward, I did it.

II. The baptism this week was awesome. Since E Leavitt is in the office and his Pday is Saturday, he got to come up for it. I baptized one and he baptized the other. Father and son baptizing together three months after the father left. Adorable.
Too much awesome to handle

III. Do you remember what happens June 1st? Stay tuned.

-Elder Gonzalez

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week Thirty-Four: Mawaige

Mawaige. Mawaige is what bwings us togever today. I dont know if you all know this but a pre-requisite to being baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that if you are living with your partner, you have to be legally married.

That happens to be a HUGE problem here because people here love to cohabitate. Also, it is really freaking hard to get married here. You need a TON of documents and only the mayor can do it. Its not like on Friends where Joey can print a document of the computer and then marry a couple.

We have two sisters named Bani and Cesi that have been listening to the missionaries for more than a year but havent been able to be baptized because their boyfriends work really far away and only come once in a blue moon with no heads up.

This week, they showed up out of the blue and we have been running around like animals taking out documents, seeing judges, making phone calls, etc.

Cesi got married Fri and Bani tomorrow and they both get baptized Sat. And we will all live happily ever after.

A picture taken before the wedding of Cesi and Geancarlos

Monday, May 12, 2014

Week Thirty-Three: Please Don't Go. Please Don't Leave.

Hey everyone!

There's not a ton to tell you all this week. Mish biz as usual. I had a great Mothers Day. I got to meet E Flores family who are a funny bunch of people. Then I got to call my momma. I found the house with the fastest internet and borrowed an HD camera. We had a good little one hour chat that felt like a good little five minute chat. It's just fun to be able to see them.

Me and Elder Florez

E Flores found a lizard on the ground and is keeping it in a shoebox. The word for lizard in Spanish makes me laugh: "lagartija" 

Our lagartija. Question: What do lagartijas eat?

Other than that, no big surprises. I hope I don't get to boring and then everyone will stop reading these and then forget about me. I'll have to think of something for next week.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Week Thirty-Two: Getting Sups Christlike

Howdy campers,

This week was pretty great. The work is progressing fast and we are seeing daily miracles. I'm really happy almost all of the time. Except for one part of my day: breakfast.

I'm not supposed to complain in my emails home so don't tell anyone, haha. So as you may remember, I live in the restaurant that I eat all three of my meals in. In the morning, after taking a nice bucket shower, getting dressed, and walking downstairs, Ligia (my Peruvian mommy who feeds me) is at the market. So the person in charge of breakfast is Ofelia.

Everyday, I walk down the stairs and say "What is there to eat?" And she says, "I don't know. Hot chocolate? Orange juice? Soda?" I ASKED YOU WHAT THERE WAS TO EAT!!!!!!!!

Don't worry, I am getting really Christlike and I have never yelled at her but holy cow. I want to know what there is to EAT. I could care less about what I drink.

But yeah, the patience is coming along.

Love you all,
Elder Gonzalez