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 CaƱo 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