Monday, September 2, 2013

July and August 2013 - The Mission Comes to an End

July 29, 2013
Yesterday was Independence day in Peru. All weekend they had marches going on. It`s a pretty common thing amongst  Latin American cultures. Instead of having a parade and every group makes a float, everyone just lines up and marches like the military. We went and watched on Saturday morning. There is a 30 yard stretch where they march in front of the regional president and other officials.   We have a baptism scheduled for Saturday. Two girls were going to get baptized but we are probably going to move one of them back a week. One is named Leidy and the other Smith. Yes, they use Smith as a first name here sometimes. For girls and guys.

August 5, 2013
 On Tuesday the zone leaders visited our district meeting and let me in on a little surprise. I was going to be sent to Lima to finish up some paperwork that had to do with cancelling my VISA and declaring something-something.  
I don’t really know what it was all for, but I flew out of Tumbes to Lima on Wednesday night with two other elders and met up with 9 others from our group in Lima who had flown out of Piura.  It was a blast.  Back in December of 2011 we made a similar trip but that time it was to declare that we were IN the country and that we`d be STAYING.  
So, needless to say, this time we felt great knowing that we had a whole mission behind us and we could actually talk to the people and feel a part of the culture.  We ate Big Mac`s in the airport and even helped out a big group of BRAND new gringos that had just gotten here and were on their way to the CCM.  It was a great time spent with old friends in the mission.

Amongst them my companion from the CCM, and many other awesome elders from my group. It was a great mini trip to Lima and we were actually able to walk around the city a bit and see some of the buildings. What we saw isn`t even a tenth of what Lima has but it was still cool.
On Saturday we had a baptism for Leidy. Her mom even went and seemed to have felt the spirit there.
Today for a zone activity we went to an area where the pensionista is a baker and has a brick oven. We made pizzas that turned out.... kinda good and are now all about to eat ice cream.  This week we have our last multizone conference where me and 5 others will be baring our final testimonies.  It is weird to think that I`ll be the one with the microphone now trying to sum up everything I`ve learned in the mission in just 3 minutes.  
Then on Saturday I am going to have my last interview with President Rowley. There are so many missionaries going home in my group that he has to start doing final interviews where ever he goes because there wouldn’t be time to do it in his office in the last weekend. Wow. That`s when things will really sink in.

I can say that i have definitely  come to love and care for the less actives in the church.  In hearing their stories and listening to some of the challenges that they have gone through, my testimony of the gospel has been strengthened and I have come to understand why we have Christ`s church and what life would be like without it. I have learned a lot from those that have gone back and embraced the gospel stronger than ever before. That`s just a small part of my testimony and the things I have learned.
August 12, 2013   Two Weeks
This might be the last email that I write that you can all respond to! Wow.  So, how`s that for putting things into perspective? Things are coming to a close and every day it becomes a little more real.
We had a successful week.  We started teaching Leidy`s cousin this week who is 15 and she ended up going to church. And we found a few other great investigators that have some serious potential and show a lot of interest. One is a 29 year old single mom (Dany`s sister - a recent convert) and another is a 19 year old girl (friend of a girl that is getting baptized on Sunday). So that`s good.  
On Friday we had a Multi-zone Conference with the zones tumbes and puyango. It was good to see all the elders from Puyango again and be together with the President for my last conference. The theme was on the gospel of Jesus Christ and we analyzed why it is so important in our lives and how to help others complete with the principles of faith, repentance, baptism, etc. The spirit was especially strong. Then, all the missionaries that will be leaving this transfer or the next bore their testimonies.  
So there were 9 of us that did it.  It was definitely weird being the one with the microphone after seeing so many missionaries before me do the same thing.  It was hard to put all that I’ve learned and felt on my mission into a brief testimony.  Then on Saturday morning I had my last interview with President Rowley. He usually does it the last day in the mission home but the group is so big that he has had to start a little early and get them done wherever he goes.  He is such an inspired person. We had an awesome conversation for about 40 minutes on what goals I have for the future and what I’ve learned or how I have changed in these last two years. He made me feel pretty good and he was very supportive of Dad`s advice that he has always given us on being self-disciplined and self-starters. That’s the key. It has been interesting to reflect on what goals I have for college, a career, and life in general.  I can`t believe that another phase of my life is about to start while another one closes. 
August 19, 2013   Last Week
It´s been an exciting week.  Last Wednesday Elder Smith, my last comp as a ZL, called me and said that an investigator I had found with Elder Muralles was finally getting baptized. And, he wanted me to baptize him! So, right after church on Sunday we went over to Puyango to my old ward for the service. Three others got baptized as well.  It was a good experience and was my last time getting the chest wet as a missionary. Alfredo is 38 and his wife and kids went to his baptism even though she is ¨super catholic¨.  I was able to say bye to a few members, too.
Then at 4 we had a baptism in Buenos Aires of a girl named Smith. She´s 16 and her mom and 2 family friends and grandma went to support her. All was well. The members were reverent, the spirit was present, and then came the time for the ordinance. Long story short, she didn’t go under the first time. The second time, worse. The third time, she was nervous and stiff. After a failed forth attempt we got her out of the water and calmed down and did some practices while everyone waited patiently inside. We ended up using a chair so she could literally just sit down and then lean back into the water.  It was stressful and frustrating because she wasn’t that cooperative, but Elder Caño got it done. It was pretty moment though with the members of her family. 
Today we went to a beach called zorritos. So, the final week has come!  Looks like the details are coming together.  I’ll write a quick note next Monday from the office and then call in Atlanta.   Love you all. I have never been so far away from the family but never felt closer. Your emails and your enthusiasm and interest in my mission has been wonderful.  I appreciate it a lot and realize the effort.  So thanks!  Now we´re just days away from seeing each other.     Elder Farmer
August 26, 2013    27 Hours
Can you believe it?  I´ll be seeing you all in about 27 hours. I have been in Piura since Saturday visiting some old areas and it has been a blast. I love the mission! There is no greater joy.     Love yawl     Elder Farmer

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 15 and July 22 2013

July 15th - The last transfer...    I received a phone call from the president last night, and then the assistants told us who were getting transferred.  I was one of them, but then they told me not to travel to Piura. I had to have my bags ready, but I won’t be leaving Tumbes.  In a few hours they`re going to call me again and let me know where to go tomorrow, and who my new companion/area is going to be. That makes goodbyes a lot easier knowing that I can come back the last weekend of my mission to see them one last time.
On Wednesday I signed my Peruvian visa release declaring that I’m leaving the country on August 27th. That was a trunky moment.  On Friday we had a ward mission night with Karaoke.  Me and my comp sang a popular song here and everyone had a laugh. We then said our goodbyes to Sister Cruz who was ending her mission.  She`s from El Salvador and has been in the same zone as me for 9 transfers in the mission.
Today for p-day the two of us went up to the border. It is a pretty popular place here because Peru and Ecuador have a peace agreement.  I really just wanted to go for the picture of Ecuador (don’t worry we didn’t go across).
July 22

I got transferred to the other zone here in Tumbes (Zone Tumbes instead of Zone Puyango).  My area is called Buenos Aires and is going to be a great place to end my mission with lots of work to do.  My companion is named Elder Caño from Guatemala.  He´s got just 7 months out on the mission. He is a great missionary though and he and his last companion had a lot of success.
They just happened to find a handful of people that want to get baptized so when I got here they already had 3 investigators with a baptismal date.  There are four elders in the ward and we all live together. It´s actually one of the only rooms in the mission that allows four elders to live together.  We live in a 3 story fun house with the kitchen on the first level, two elders on the second floor, and we´re on the third floor. The house belongs to the bishop but he rents it out to the missionaries and chooses to live in a tin roofed house with his family just around the corner. His two sons live on the fourth level. 
Today we went to Puerto Pizarro. It was my third time being there but this time we went with the whole zone.  Elder Smith, a good friend of my from Lopez Albujar who also studied at BYU Idaho, just got up here this transfer and is the new zone leader in the Zone Tumbes. It´s going to be a very fun transfer.
I’m excited to get back but excited for the last project that God has given me here in the mission.  I am so certain that the church is true. It is impossible for this to not be Christ´s gospel that he wants all of us to enjoy. Without a doubt. It is all amazing.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 2013

July 1
On Friday we had a work visit with the district leader from Zarumilla and his companion.  I went out to visit the DL and Elder Smith stayed in our area with his comp.  It was a great experience. There is great member support in that area and are teaching a lot of great families.  It is a very large ward that has potential to get split into two in the future   Zarumilla is a town 20 minutes north of my area and is just 5 minutes away from the border with Ecuador.  On the outskirts of Zarumilla there are a ton of little towns that were started by farmers and have like 50-100 habitants . Every Saturday the Elders go out and preach to the ¨pueblos¨ and visit the investigators that they have.  
On Saturday morning a member drove us out and did some visits with us.  It was one of the most unique experiences of my mission. When any premissionary imagines a South American mission, they picture the kind of houses and towns that we went to.  Very poor and simple living.  The walls are literally made out of big sticks placed close together and filled in with mud, complete with a tin roof and stray pigs.  Every 2 or 5 minutes you pass by a new town.  They have funny names too.  Maybe you can look them up on google. The first one we went to was called Cuchareta, then ones called El Olivo, La Palma, Uña de Gato, etc.
Today for P-day we went out to a port called Puerto Pizarro.  It’s a cool little town where they fish shrimp and do crocodile tours and island tours.  At 5 pm we’ll be on a bus going to Piura for what might be my last zone leader council.   Until next week, which will probably feel like tomorrow,  Elder Farmer

July 7     Puerto Pizarro
Hola familila,      Things have been going well here in Puyango.   Like I had commented last week, we went to Piura on Monday afternoon for another mission leader’s council on Tuesday.  We got there faster than usual and were able to stay up a bit, talking with missionaries from the office that I worked with before in the mission.  It is always a great break to the routine of being a missionary and gets me relaxed and ready to go once again for another month.  It always feels good being in the mission home and having an intimate meeting with President and Sister Rowley. They are some awesome people. Great examples of true dedication.

It has been a very good transfer.  Next week we´ll see if I am staying or going. It´s practically a done deal that I am getting moved out.  With so many zone leaders going home in the next 2 transfers, President needs to move some other younger missionaries up so they can get the hang of it.  In the next 2 transfers more than 60 missionaries are going home and only 40 or so are coming.  Today we went back to Puerto Pizarro to buy more stuff.  Love ya´ll, Have a good week,  Elder Ryan


More July Pictures



Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 2013

June 3
Big news this week.  On Thursday my companion got a call from the president saying that he needed to go to Piura on Friday.  He got bumped up to AP.  Five other missionaries are leaving the zone and we´ll have new missionaries coming in tomorrow including my new companion.  Elder Muralles couldn’t tell me his name but he did tell me that I’m going to be content.   I am praying for my first gringo companion of 8 latin companions. But, we´ll see. 
STORYTIME --- About a month ago, an elder in Piura was in stake conference when a group of Americans came in and sat in the back. He went to greet them and one of them starting asking if he knew some kid named Ryan farmer. It took a while for him to realize he was referring to Elder Farmer, but he said yes. Turns out, it is a guy that lives in Utah and knows Brandon. He came down here working with some foundation called ‘International  Help’ and Brandon  told him that I am here serving a mission.   So, when he got the opportunity he asked if I was here.  He has been calling the assistants because he wanted to meet up with me. They were a little hesitant but finally asked President Rowley for permission and he said it would be fine as long as it was brief.  Last week they  came up to Tumbes and he got a hold of me. I told him what church I go to and what time sacrament meeting starts and to my surprise, he and a friend showed up.  It was a cool experience.  They shared their testimonies and then afterwards we talked for a bit.  What a unique experience and it was great being able to talk to some fellow US citizens for a change.  Awesome.
Today we went to another beach for a zone activity. This time we went to a beach called La Cruz. It belongs to the other zone here in Tumbes and there are two sister missionaries working there. It is a super cool little town on the coast and a very peaceful beach. We played soccer in the sand for a bit and then just chilled in the sand and hit some waves.  (I wish) but it was still fun. 
June 10, 2013  Un gringo!
God answers prayers.  Yep. It is official.  I got my first American companion!  Which is good because we´re working out all of our English mistakes before getting home to facing the embarrassment t of saying things that don’t make sense . His name is Elder Smith from Layton, Utah. He´s got just one transfer less than I do and we´re already super great friends. It’s actually really different being with a companion that has actually seen the same tv shows or youtube videos as you, or listened to the same music, etc. We also went through the same area earlier on in the mission. I replaced him when I entered Ramon Castilla last year in April. 
Last Monday I was able to send off 7 missionaries at 7 o´clock when the strike finally ended. Then on Tuesday we traveled to Piura for a zone leader council so Elder Smith just stayed in Piura and waited for me there. On Wednesday we had the council and Elder Waddell from the seventy showed up as a surprise guest and talked to us for about 2 hours.  Pure revelation.
We found a young couple on Saturday night that are just 22 and 20 years old with a kid and are still trying to start their lives together. They attended church on Sunday and seemed to enjoy it. They could possibly progress.   But yes, I do feel good. I miss home but I am grateful for the time I have left and hope to see a few more miracles.   All is well.
In other other news, we had a baptism! The two girls from the Inga family finally got baptized.  Genesis, Francia, and Estrella.  The funny thing is that they were Catholics before, and the tradition at catholic baptisms is CELEBRATE. So, they made a very big deal out of it and each came in a special dress.  They took pictures at every instant and served cake at the end that had frosting that said ¨Mi Bautizo¨.  Haha. (Justin and Brandon will understand). The only thing that we didn’t have was a visit from the Pope and a case of beer.   But, it was still a very special moment seeing an entire family in the gospel. The dad baptized the youngest, 8, and two young men baptized the girls, 17 and 13. There were about 12 attempts in all. A foot would leave the water, they´d forget a word or add something to the prayer, or simply not go back all the way, but after 20 minutes all were able to receive a legitimate baptism.  I was one of the witnesses but felt more like a coach on the sidelines. haha  I sent two good friends home on Saturday and Sunday.   It really feels like all is coming to an end.  But I feel good and old and experienced.  Off to work some more.
June 17
First off all, those baptisms were not mine. Those are the sisters´ baptisms.  I  just had the honor of dunking them.  But they are great guys.  The 3 are cousins that are all 20 years old and have great faith in the gospel.  I baptized two of them and my pensionistas’  husband baptized the other. 
We are teaching a few good people that in the future could really progress.  We get along quite well, maybe too well sometimes, but we do our best to not get too distracted.  The mission has such a different feel being with a fellow American. It´s great.
We have decided to strive to help our investigators learn to recognize the spirit more. Sometimes we teach and teach and teach and the investigators have spiritual experiences, but they don’t even realize that they are having and they don’t understand the role of the Holy Ghost. We have also simplified our teaching a lot to basic principles. 2 Nephi 31:2-3.  It is fun teaching with Elder Smith and we push each other to talk with people in the street and knock on doors. Oh, and we´ve been going through epic Spanglish battles.  We now translate what we want to say from Spanish to English so sometimes we make some pretty comical errors.   And since we switch back and forth so often sometimes I mix it up without even noticing.  Yesterday I said to a sister, ¨Mañana es gunnabe un dia especial.¨ (Tomorrow is gunnabe a special day)  without noticing.  haha. Im trying my best to enjoy the time out here and not lose the faith. Some days I do better than others.
June 24   22 Months
Hey family, Do you know what today is?  It’s my 22 month mark.    It is very surreal and time is going by fast. This last week went by particularly fast.
We are finding a few good candidates for baptism but there aren’t any that are really progressing besides Alfredo Inga who we now have 2 months teaching.  We´re hoping to be able to teach both Alfredo and his wife this week, and help her recognize the spirit.  This week we had interviews with the President on Wednesday.  He is a very inspired person and it is always very motivating to hear his advice and counsel.  On Thursday we worked with the assistants.   I went out with Elder Lindsay, an Elder in my group who was actually my district leader in Sechura .  He is a complete machine when it comes to missionary work and loves to work hard.
On Sunday afternoon we watched the special conference.  It was incredible.  I felt the spirit very strongly and felt very privileged to be a missionary, but I couldn’t help but think about the huge choir that was just about to go into the field.   It was a wake up call on how important missionary work really is and what members  and  ward leaders can do to make the work go forth. It doesn’t all just depend on the missionaries, we´re just here to HELP.      Elder Pequeño Rey Escot Granjero