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.
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.
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