Monday, January 27, 2014

Week Eighteen: Ch-ch-changes

Yesterday was, as David Bowie would say, Ch-ch-changes.

For those who dont know what changes are, here we go.

So my mission is the Mission Peru Trujillo, but I can be moved around to different little cities or areas for a pretty big sized chunk of Peru. For example, if I were called to the Seattle, WA mission, I could be in Redmond for 6 months and then be moved to Normandy Park for a while. Every six weeks, there is the possibility to change. On Changes-Sunday, all of the missionaries sit in their rooms and the changes make there way down the chain of command. If there is a change, you have your Pday on Monday to say good-bye and you leave Tuesday morning.

A normal amount of time to stay in an area is around 6 months. Elder Leavitt has been in Cartavio for 9 months. On a scale of 1 to really sure that he was leaving, we were EXTREMELY sure that he was leaving. We both spoke in church, we took out appointments to go and say goodbye to people, and we started making bets on who my new companion would be here.

We have to be in the room at 5:30. We waited.
At 7, we ate dinner. Then, we waited.
At 10, we turned the lights off and lied in bed and waited
at 10:30, after five hours of pacing and freaking out, we got the call and......he's staying.

He really wants to see more of the mission but he loves Cartavio. So we have another 6 weeks together to baptize this whole pueblo. We need new conversation topics though. I know everything about that ginger.

Also, this means that I will be here at least until March but most likely until May-ish. So Im going to settle in and get comfy.

Also, so that you all know, Cartavio is rooting for the Seahawks. Or at least the only two people in Cartavio who care are.

Have a great week everyone!
Elder Gonzalez

Monday, January 20, 2014

Week Seventeen: Advice for Liars

I promised something different so here you go:

As a missionary, you get lied to. Thats all there is to it. People lie. I wish they wouldnt because I know that my message can really help them but it is funny how bad at lying some people are. I thought that I could help you know how to lie better. Here are a few tips and examples of how NOT to lie:

1. Listen first. Make sure that you understand what they are asking.  That way you can lie better.

Heres an example of what not to do:

"Hey we talked to your daughter and sh-"
"She´s not home"
"And she said that y-"
"Shes not home"
"She said that YOU might be interested in our message"

We later found out that she was home.

2. If you want a lie told right, do it yourself. A lot of people here send their small children to the door to lie for them.

"Hey is your mom home?"
"No, she left"
"Can you ask her when shell be home"
"Yeah one second shes in the back room"

3. Make sure that your lie is strong enough to deter the person.

"Can we share our message with you?"
"Im really busy washing my clothes"
"Can we help you wash your clothes?"
"Im almost done"
"Then can we share our message with you?"
"But...Im clothes."

Long story short, I get lied to a lot. And I am getting a lot better and figuring out when a person is lying. So, dont even try to lie to me when I get home. Because Ill catch you. >:(

 Big bug. E Leavitt said, "Those things are more fun when they are huge, blue, can talk, and are a little bit fruity."

Love you all and miss you all a ton.  Im praying for you all.

Elder Gonzalez

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Week Sixteen: With Cartavio, We All Win

Time is flying. Ive been in Cartavio for over two months. I know all of our investigators, all of the members, all of the streets. I love Cartavio. Unlike most other areas in the world, instead of the boundaries being like a street or a river or something, there is just corn in all directions.  We have juristiction over all of Cartavio and so we have a lot of pride in the city.
With Cartavio, we all win. This is my favorite cheesy wall quote. There are more. 

E Leavitt and I have been getting along better and better since we started as companions.  Now hes one of my really close friends.  It turns out that if you never leave sight of a person for two months, you really learn to like them. (The alternative is not pretty).
When I got here, I found out that we ARE allowed to have instruments so I bought a dope wooden flutish recorderish thing and I play the hymns on it as E Leavitt drifts off to sleep.

Im short on time this week so I promise something cool next week. I dont know what itll be yet, but itll be cool so get excited and tune in next Monday for...Week 17.

Love you all,
Elder Gonzalez

Monday, January 6, 2014

Week Fifteen: New Year

2014 y'all.

I hope that everyone had a fun and safe New Year. We didnt do very much here. Our pensionista (the person who feeds us three times a day) gave us each two ties and a bottle of cologne as Christmas/New Years gifts. She is the best member in the whole ward and likely the best pensionista that I will have my whole mission. Other than that, we went to bed at 10:30 like lame missionaries, haha.  Apparently there was a crazy fireworks show at midnight but for those of you who actually know me, you know I didnt wake up and hear it.

Me and Abinidai. He is my number one best friend in Peru. He proselytes with us at least twice a week and testifies with power. He is hilarious, listens to great music, and is going to college to study English for a year before his mission. #whatigotyougottagiveittoyourmama #badhaircut

The weirdest thing about it being 2014 is that I will be here for the whole year. For the rest of my life, whenever I see a movie, album, or book that came out in 2014 I will know that I was in Peru. I was home for a lot of 2013 and Ill be home for some of 2015 but all of 2014 will be spent serving the Lord.  Thats just a thought that I thought was cool. What can I say? I think a lot of thoughts.

For New Years Eve, people make scarecrows and then burn them at midnight. This was by far the coolest one.

Theres not a ton to talk about this week. We were pretty successfull. We taught a lot of lessons. Missionary stuff.  Im starting to settle in and feel really comfortable living here and speakng Spanish. 

Random thought of a Google-less missionary: Why is it easy to keep your eyelids all of the way open or all of the way closed but to keep them halfway open requires a lot of effort.

Have a great week and a great year. God bless America.

Elder Gonzalez

Week Fourteen: Feliz Navidad

Feliz Navidad,

I hope everyone had a great Christmas back in the United States of America.  It was weird that it was hot here. It was and will be the sweatiest Christmas of my life.  There wasnt much of a build up to Christmas without the sweaters, snow, Christmas music, or parties so it kind of snuck up out of nowhere. The 23rd was a P-day and we watched The Polar Express in Spanish to get in the Christmas spirit. Im sure that it was difficult to find a Mexican guy who sounded like Tom Hanks but they did a good job.

On Christmas Eve, we had dinner as an entire zone of 16 missionaries which was a ton of fun.  We had turkey, potatoes, hot cocoa, fruit cake, etc.  That night, after skyping E Leavitts family, the Elders from the neighbouring city of Chicama came over to spend the night.  Lets just say that we ate a lot of sugar and had a lot of fun.

On Christmas day, we preached as normal and had a really successful day.  We taught five lessons including a really nice inactive lady named Esmelda.  Then in the evening, I got to skype my parents.  There is a really cool member in our area that has an iPad so I actually had a really good connection and got to talk to my family for an hour.  That was by far the highlight of the Christmas festivities.

Our Christmas Eve dinner as Zona Casa Grande or as we like to call it: ZONA BIG HOUSE

I also wanted to talk a little about one of my investigators. His name is Cristhian Portales-Atoche.  I talked
about him and his family a little bit a few weeks ago but I wanted to explain a little better.

Cristhian is fourteen.  His aunt and uncle are members and one day, he just showed up to church.  We actually didnt notice him and it wasnt until he showed up at church the next week that we decided, "Hey, we should probably teach this guy." We started teaching him and a little later his whole family.  Since then, hes attended church seven times as well as every weekly activity in the church. Hes a better member of the church than most people who are actually members of the church.

Our Christmas Eve sleepover. That is E Pecho and E Leavitt doing a little Christmas-snuggling

This Saturday, his family wasnt home so E Leavitt and I taught just him.  He told us that he had read and prayed about the Book of Mormon and that he knows that it is true.  We set a baptism date for this Saturday and got really excited.

We came back the next day (yesterday) to get a permission slip signed (he needs one because he is under 18).  Only him and his mom were there.  She told us that she talked with Cristhian and that "he" decided that "he" wanted to wait until "he" knew a little more. It was extremely obvious that she was the one who wasnt sure.  We tried really hard to explain to her that Cristhian had done his part and had recieved his answer from Heavenly Father and that the next step for him was baptism. She really just has no faith in him because he failed a year of school. Because of that she really just doesnt have any trust in her son.  We tried so hard. We bore our testimony so many times but she still thinks that he should wait.

Prayers would be appreciated for Cristhian.

I hope you all had great Christmases, Channakuhs, and weeks in general. I love you all,

Elder Gonzalez

Week Thirteen: Baptism!

Merry Christmas everyone!

This week was really phenomenal. We had a baptism! She is eight years old and her family goes to church every week but since her parents cant marry due to their cohabitation, she is a baptism for the mission. We taught her all of the lessons over the last few weeks and then baptized her on Saturday. I got to be the one to baptize her. It was an incredible experience. The Spirit is always strong at baptisms but I don't think that I was prepared for how strong it would be when I was the one performing the ordinance. It was really just a great day.

Norma Olenka Marcos Villareal: Habiendo sido comisionado por Jesucristo, yo te bautizo en el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espiritu Santo. Amen.
After the baptism, we had to hurry to get to Trujillo because that evening, there was a Christmas show in the Plaza de Armas put on by all of the missionaries in the mission. E Leavitt and I missed the practice due to the baptism but we got there in time to participate (you can see pictures at All 200+ missionaries sang Christmas music and some people had prepared special numbers on pan flutes, breakdances, and all kind of things.  Every one passing by stopped to see what was happening and there were missionaries in the crowd taking the info of people who were interested in lessons.

The whole family
As far as my plans for Christmas eve and Christmas: I still don't know. I know that for at least most of the day, we will preach like normal. We have a few appointments and a ton of members that want to give us fruitcake (its really good here). On Christmas, in the evening, I get to skype my family for an hour which will be the best and on Christmas eve, I get to meet E Leavitts family which will be cool too. Other than that, we still aren't 100% on the rules but well find out soon. Either way, this will be a really fun Christmas.

A sheep herder and her flock were just walking down the street. I took the pic from behind so that they wouldn't all freak out.
Paz y buena voluntad,
Elder Gonzalez

Week Twelve: Letters, English Homework, and the Virgen de la Puerta

Listen up kith and kin,

Here's how letter sending is going to have to work. I LOVE getting letters and I get them between 2 weeks and 2 months. I get them delivered to me through the leadership hierarchy. I live no where near a post office and I'll have the chance to send a response very infrequently. Feel free to send me letters, but at the end of the letter, put your email, so I can respond.

As missionaries, we always offer service. "Hay algo que nosotros podemos hacer para ustedes?" is one of our most common phrases.  Since both my companion and I are from the states, a lot of times, we get asked to help kids with their English homework. Their textbooks aren't real books. It's like a person typed up the assignments on a word document and printed them out and stapled them together. Also, the writer of the book likely has never actually spoken English with a native speaker. An example of a question: "Look at the pictures and sing according to the write according to the following:" We get so frustrated because we are fluent and we dont even know how to help.

Also, a lot of people here worship the saints. The biggest one is called Virgen de la Puerta.  Her ceremony was yesterday.  There was a giant parade going through Cartavio with people in feathered head-dresses, chanting and carrying a big statue.  E Leavitt and I kept trying to find all the people we to and telling them to stop breaking the 2nd of the 10 commandments.

Cartavio is a ton of fun. Tomorrow is the first "change" where some people switch companions and areas but since I'm in my training, nothing happens.  6 weeks from now is another and E Leavitt will probably go somewhere else.

Love you all a ton. Have a great Christmas season.

Elder Gonzalez