Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ignacio Merino week #13

Phew! This was quite possibly the most physically and mentally (and spiritually) exhausting week of the mission thus far but also so good! 

I´m carrying a lot of the responsibility right now since I´m leading the area and Hermana Glunt´s spanish is limited. Hermana Orellana used to be my faithful back-up when I didn´t understand something that someone said or when I didn´t explain something correctly in a lesson, but now it´s on me and I have relied on THE SPIRIT more than I ever have in my life.  My prayers are approximately 100 times longer than before I started training, seriously. I need the Spirit to guide me right now to know how to respond to investigators, make decisions over the area, etc. For example, on Monday night when I texted Ana Troncos to confirm our appt the next day she responded that she´d be there but that she wasn´t feeling prepared for baptism and she wanted to talk about it the next day. For a moment there I thought I can´t do this. Hermana Orellana wasn´t there to consult or talk about what we should do and what we should teach. I prayed and prayed and fervently pondered what we should do. In companionship study the next day as I explained my tentative plan to Hna Glunt, she listened and then suggested a scripture to share with Ana (I forgot to write down the reference) and I was like WOW. That´s perfect. The lesson ended up going so well as we explained the principle of faith and the covenant of baptism. She accepted a baptismal date for the 31st of October! I was so grateful for Hermana Glunt and the Spirit guiding us that day. Hna Glunt is a rockstar - she´s so determined and even with limited Spanish she is a stellar missionary! 

The Spirit has gotten me through this week. It´s been moments like when a new investigator was expressing to us his lack of faith and trials within his family with tears in his eyes when I just prayed and confided in the spirit to know what to say and Enos chapter 1 came to mind. I shared it and watched his face change as he read that Enos´ sins were completely forgiven as he prayed fervently to The Lord. Those moments were completely the Spirit. Not me. 

Logistically it was a tiring week with phone calls and filling out registros on my own since Hermana Glunt is new to the area/mission, but I was also so happy this week and a lot of it is because she is so fantastic! Any traces of homesicknesses have disappeared because we can talk and laugh about pre-mission things and we have had the funniest adventures like getting scared to death at night by dogs in our area and discovering PINKBERRY froyo in Piura!! :) She is so good at just loving people and I´ve already learned so much from her! 

We found TEN new investigators this week if you can believe that. Seriously everyone was letting us in their door. This week will be the test to see how many of them progress! Random side note: People are generally super respectful of our religion here but this week this dude in the street asked us if we were Joseph Smith´s daughters....umm no. We got out of that situation pretty quick. 

Okay and the most RANDOM things happened this week: 
Tuesday night Elder Yujra called and said that the next day I was headed to LIMA??? At first I was ticked because our plans for the next day were down the drain but it turned out great because I got to talk to Hna Sepulveda for HOURS on the plane and in the lines at immigrations and we had a hard-core reflection over our lives these past 3 months in the field. And now we´re legal in Peru so that´s good I guess!

Okay so we were sitting in district mtg yesterday waiting for the Elders to get there and guess who walks in the door?? ELDER O´BRIEN. Like what?? One year ago we were on splits with the missinoaries in the DR and now we´re in the same DISTRICT!!! How crazy is that? It was his 2nd day in the field and he seems happy and ready to work! 

This ¨smoke squad¨ came to neighborhood on Friday and we all had to evacuate while they sprayed this nasty chemical/smoke stuff everywhere. Apparently it´s supposed to prevent mosquitoes during El Nino when the mosquitoes are suppposed to get super bad?? They came this morning too, and Thursday

We saw the Lunar Eclipse last night and it was so legit! 

Also we had 4 investigators at church! 

Overall, super great week. I´m super tired but super happy and so grateful to be here and to have such an awesome companion! 

Alma 26: 11-12 basically wraps it all up! I have never felt so loved and guided by my Heavenly Father. Through Him, I can do all things.

Love you all! 
Hermana Parks 
 Elder O'Brien is the tallest one here, he was in the DR summer 2014
 Found a chapel with Hna Sepulveda
 El distrito

 Subway in Lima
 The reason we had to trek to Lima

 The smoke squad
Pink Berry in Peru!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cambios: Hna Parks remains in Ignacio Merino, nueva companera, also from the PNW!

Here´s how it went down:

Saturday Hna O and I were knocking on doors around 6pm per the usual, and I noticed a missed call on our phone. We called back and no one answered so we kept working for another half hour or so when I noticed 2 more missed calls from the same number. So we called back...and it was President Rasmussen!! 
He asked if I had a minute to talk and then said ´Sister Parks, I have a challenge for you, are you up for it?´ I said yes, and he proceeded to announce my fate...

´This transfer you´re going to stay in your area and finish training an hermana who has one transfer in the field.´ 

(in my head) SAY WHAT. 

So here we are! Hermana Glunt and I, two gringas with just a couple of months in the field, winging it in Ignacio Merino! Haha but really, she is FANTASTIC. I already love her so much. She is so determined to learn Spanish and speak it all the time, even though it´s going to be tempting to speak English. She´s from Washington, north of Seattle, but has been living in Hawaii for a while so that´ll work out great for me when I go visit her after the mission :) She´s 23 and was born in the church but less active her whole life until about a year ago, her story is super cool. She´s super outgoing, loves yoga, was vegan before the mission, and is so ready to be exactly obedient and work super hard! We´ve only spent a few hours together thus far but I can already tell we are going to be best friends and work super well together!

So yeah, everything has been a blur since Saturday, haha! Nonetheless, I will try to remember what happened this week...

We visited Ana Troncos on Monday and taught the Plan of Salvation. She is around 30 years old, has a super high position in a business here in Piura (super sophisticated if that´s the right word but also suuuper nice!) and she´s also a reference from the Elders in Angamos. Her boyfriend started investigating the church a month or two ago and was baptized a couple weeks ago. She had attended church with him 3 times in Angamos while he was investigating so about a month ago the elders told us they had a GOLDEN reference. We visited her the same week and she was very sweet and willing to learn but also made it clear that she wants to maintain her religion, and mentioned that her daughter (10) is attending Catequesis (probably butchered the spelling on that) classes in her catholic school. So anyways, we left a little bummed that it wasn´t as golden of a reference as we´d hoped. We had difficulty getting into contact with her for the next month and took that to mean she wasn´t interested. But then last week the Elders called us and told us to call her because her boyfriend had told them she had changed! So we called and she wanted us to come over! She went to stake conference and said the messages really touched her and that her perspective of our church and our doctrine have completely changed. She expressed to us that she´s always felt this emptiness that her church and her family hasn´t been able to fill. She said that when we walk in the room we just ´fill it up´and she wants to continue feeling that even when we leave. We watched the restoration video, taught the BoM, and when we came back she had read the chapter we left, prayed, had questions, and felt the Spirit! We taught the plan of salvation and answered a lot of the questions she has had for a long time. On Thursdaywe had to do divisions because ward council was also thursday so i went to council and didn´t get to teach Ana but Hna O said that they invited her to baptized and she accepted and is going to pray for a baptismal date in October! (She has some important training courses for her job that fall every saturday so she´s going to work out her schedule and pick a date) We just love her!!

Other significant events:
Knocking on doors this week we found a golden family who are so receptive and excited to learn about the gospel! Ana Maria and her son Matias. (also her cutest 10 month old). When we taught the restoration and afterwards taught about how we can know for ourselves that these things are true she said ´oh okay so when we pray and ask God to know if it´s true we´re probably not going to have a grand vision or something but we´re going to feel peace and if our life is changing in positive ways as we live the principles, we´ll know it´s true!´  
Haha, it was perfect. We´re excited to continue teaching them! 

We had a family night on Saturday hosted by la familia Velasquez and watched Meet the Mormons! 2 of our investigators came (Ricardo and Ximena) and we got 2 references of extended family members of the Velasquez who came and really enjoyed the movie! Golden. Our mission has set the goal for each companionship to use meet the mormons once per transfer as a tool to find new investigators! I think it´s going to be fantastic. Plus who doesn´t love watching movies? Not that I miss technology or anything :)

Other than that, I honestly don´t remember details of this week, haha! Hna O and I worked hard for our last week together! She was transferred to Paita to be an hermana lider! She will do SO great. I am forever grateful for her example, PATIENCE with me :), her ability to teach powerfully by the Spirit, and her love for this work and her Savior Jesus Christ. She is amazing. 

During my training I´ve learned to be exactly obedient, take advantage of every opportunity to share the gospel, study diligently and focus on the needs of those we teach, and be positive and patient in all things! 

I´ve also learned that the most popular phrases in Peru are ´lo que pasa es que...´, esta que duerme (or ESTA QUE everything...instead of saying esta durmiendo or esta comiendo),  and AZU for saying something is cool or crazy. 
I´ve also learned to sleep with a ton of noise (late night rowdy soccer games at the field near our apartment and the megaphone of the tamale car at 6am)
I´ve learned that if it´s between electricity and water, we choose water because at least you can shower...But then again, electricity means no fan..so it´s a bummer either way haha.

So that´s a wrap of my training! I still have so much to learn and so far to go, but I feel like I´ve gotten to know myself better each day as I work through my personal weaknesses and rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ to represent him as a missionary in Piura. I know that this gospel is true. I know it because I´ve lived it. I am so grateful for this opportunity to continue growing and learning in the best work there is! 

Love you all and thank you for your prayers!
Hermana Parks 
 Ice cream at the ward mission leader's house
 Hermano Carlos
 Hermana Jessica, Relief Society president of our ward
 Hna Glunt and me
 Alfajores con la Hna Doris!
 Hermana Inga, stake RS president

 Los misioneros del barrio Ignacio Merino

The bishop with his family (Jafed is the boy)

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015 from Ignacio Merino

Here is the message from Hna Parks today...

Buenas tardes familia y amigos!

Here´s the play by play of this week! (Although it won´t be nearly as exciting as that BYU Nebraska game last week! THAT was legit. Man I love BYU football -- keep the updates coming!) 

Monday: We taught Ximena (we realized her name is spelled with an X) the Book of Mormon with a member, Sharitty (16)! Sharitty is a convert as of a year and a half and has such a strong testimony, so it was a fantastic lesson! During the closing prayer, Ximena asked that she would be able to know the truth of the BoM ¨for herself and not just because we invited her to!¨ SO GOLDEN. Afterwards she invited us to have Colombian empanadas, which were super good! I love that girl. Can a 12 year old be my best friend?? (But seriously, she could be 18 in personality and intellect!) 

Tuesday: We had 4 solid lessons with German (recent convert), Avanell, Lucia Escudero, and Diego (investigators). During tocando puertas it was one of those days when we would start introducing ourselves and they would cut us off and say ¨Soy Catolico, Apostolico, y Romano¨and tell us to have a nice day. One dude said we were a diabolical cult. It´s honestly pretty entertaining and we just keep smiling and invite them to church, haha! It´s also awkward here because a lot of other religiosn proselyte too so people confuse us for jehovah´s witnesses or evangelists. Nonetheless, tocando puertas has been so awesome these past weeks! This week we found 7 new investigators just from tocando puertas. 

Wednesday: We decided it was Natioal Don´t Be in Your House day! Nonetheless we were able to visit 2 member families to teach a lesson and ask for references! And this cutest lady in our ward with Parkinson´s asked us to come over to today to make Alfajores! 

Thursday: we had interviews with the President! They went super well. He shared DyC 33: 8-10 and talked about our new mission focus to aggressively find new investigators prepared to receive the gospel. We are promised in that scripture that if we open our mouths, sheaves will be laid on our backs, or in other words, those prepared to hear the gospel will be put on our shoulders and we will carry them to the garner, which is the temple! Such a cool promise. I left with a renewed energy for this work! 
That day we visited Ximena and her sister Evelin and taught the BoM for Evelin. Evelin expressed to us that she´s going through a bit of depression right now. I wasn´t sure in the moment how best to help her, but then Hna Orellana said she wanted to share a scripture in 1 Nephi 21. When I turned to it I realized it was one of the Isaiah chapters so I was thinking ¨where in the world is she going with this..¨ but then she shared verses 15 and 16 and talked about how OUR walls are always in front of the Savior as well and He knows exactly how to succor us during trials. This is something I had shared with her personal study like 2 months ago but I had completely forgotten and I thanked her afterwards for following the Spirit to know how to help Evelin! That´s the power of companions :) 

Friday: intercambios again! This time I left with Hna Bazan. I honestly didn´t want to leave, haha! I feel like intercambios is like leaving your kids with a babysitter for the first time, haha! I was super excited to hear how things went with our investigators for Hna O and Hna Richan afterwards! Nonetheless, I learned so much from Hna Bazan. She´s a rockstar. Hermana leader and training at the same time! She´s from Lima but lived in Virginia for 7 years. It was so fun to speak english for the day! Her area totally reminds me of Xela! It´s called Miguel Grau. City, colorful houses, cobblestone streets, raised, narrow sidewalks, etc! Totally took me back to Guatemala. 

Saturday: the students have literally started having classes on Saturdays in preparation for El Nino! Apparently we are also having a missionwide conference within the next couple months to help us prepare. I honestly thought it was all superstition or people exaggerating, but it´s for reals! 

Sunday: We had stake conference and THREE investigators came! We were so stoked. (Avanell who has a baptismal date for the 27th, Ximena, and Ana Troncos). Prez Rasmussen spoke about his experience being literally the FIRST missioanry in the DR and it took me back to last summer! Hermana Rasmussen also gave a talk, in Spanish!! We were so impressed, because she knew nothing when she came! :) Love my mission mom! :) 

Overall, it was a super busy and super fulfilling week! We are thrilled to see our area progressing as The Lord is guiding us through this work. I cannot even begin to believe that this is my last week of training! I hope to make it the best and we´ll see who my new companion is next week! :) wish me luck! 

Love you all!
Hermana Parks 

 Cooking Gorditas with the district
 A purse I got in Catacaos

 Cocinando con la Hna Orellana

Forgot to send this last week... the inside of the "Juan"

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ignacio Merino week 10 - reuniting with a BYU friend, teaching some great investigadores, etc

Gente: here is today's message from Christine.  Hna Parks seems to be getting along just fine in Peru.  We sent her a Christmas package today (September 7).  If it gets to her, we think it will blow her mind.  We're blessed to have a missionary from our family serving.  El campo blanco esta ya para la siega...


This week was seriously my favorite week of the mission thus far and FULL of miracles! I wish I could tell you guys every detail and tell you about everyone we´re teaching but alas there is never enough time and too many people to describe! :) Here are a few experiences this week:

Friday we had intercambios. Hna Bazan is an hermana lider so Hna O went to her area, more in the center of Piura and Hna Richan came with me for the day! She´s the Abel´s cousin and lived in the building next to mine at BYU. She´s got 4 weeks in the field and barely knows Spanish but she has the BEST attitude and I love her to death! Last intercambios was full of appts that fell through but Friday was the exact opposite! BEST DAY EVER. Seriously. 
We visited la familia Escudero-- at first only Lucia was there with her two little ones, and I felt impressed to teach Plan de Salvacion. We had taught the first half of it about a month ago, so we re-taught the whole thing. Carlos arrived shortly after we began and they both just embraced the whole lesson. They thought the pre-mortal life was so cool that we chose to come to earth as part of God´s plan. They said they had never understood The Fall of Adam and Eve until now. When we got to the kingdoms of glory, I talked about how we have to live the principles of the gospel in order to enter the Celestial kingdom, including baptism. Carlos asked what they needed to do to be baptized! We explained about the priesthood and being baptized in the way that Christ showed us. Their whole family said yes when I invited them to be baptized and they committed to come to church on Sunday! Unfortunately, Carlos had to travel for work and the two little ones got sick so they didn´t make it, but nonetheless we areSO excited forthem. I walked out of thelesson like WHAT JUST HAPPENED. I feel like we aren´t even doing much, they´ve been prepared by The Lord to hear the gospel! Next lesson we´re going to set a baptismal date for October. 
Then, we visited Hna Avanell and taught the rest of Lesson 1 and gave her a Book of Mormon! She was SO excited to read it. She says she feels closer to God than she ever has in her life and she reads the things we give her and prays how we taught her to pray (as opposed to the Catholic recitation she used to do). On Sunday she was at church EARLY, reading her Book of Mormon! Seriously the most pilas investigator in the entire world. We visited her last night as well and set a baptismal date for the 19th! SO excited for her. From what she´s expressed, her daughters are a little wary of Mormons and have some false ideas about us but they love us sister missionaries and we´re going to start teaching them this week. 

On Tuesday, while knocking on doors, we found a Columbian family who own a restaurant, they´´ve lived here for a year. Their parents were busy but their 16 year old daughter wanted to listen to us so we taught her, Evelin, and her 12 year old sister, Jimena. They are incredible. By far the most mature teenagers I have ever met in my entire life! Super super intelligent and I swear they seem older than me, haha. We did a como comenzar a ensenar and only taught the first two principles because we had to run to another appt but then when we came back on Saturday, they had both read the pamphlet and prayed about it!! We taught them The Restoration and watched the video with them. Afterwards, they expressed to us that they felt like they identified so much with Joseph Smith becausethey´ve been looking for a religion forever and searching for the truth! HOLY GOLDEN INVESTIGATORS. Evelin got sick but Jimena came to church on Sunday! She participated a ton in the classes and told us she loved it! Afterwards she asked when we were going to visit her :) We´re going to give them Books of Mormon tonight

This week our zone conf was about finding los escogidos. DyC 29:7. We´re finding tons of nuevos investigadores and we´re working on discerning who is truly prepared. 

Reasons our ward is super pilas:
A member accompanying us followed us all the way home in his car after the lesson because he didn´t want us to walk alone and we can´t ride with members of the opposite gender. He was totally holding up traffic as he was accompanying us while we were speed walking, haha. 

In ward council they had hamburgers this week per Hna O´s request and hand delivered them to our apartment afterwards since council ran late and we had to race home. 

Julio Viera is a ward member who´s lived here for 45 years so he knows literally EVERYONE and loves accompanying us during our tocar puertas horas to show us where his friends live and teach them the gospel! So cool to see his excitement for this work. 

I had a head cold this week and it was INFIERNO, like seriously SO hot at the same time. I was like man it stinks to be sick in the summer...and then I remembered it´s winter :) So scared for summer! 
WE MET AN ATHEIST THIS WEEK. I´m pretty sure he´s the only one in Peru, so it was an honor :) 

Check out the photos of the food we ate. It´s called a Juan because Juan the baptist was decapitated and the banana leaves make it look like a human head on a plate, haha! 

Love you all have a great week!
Hermana Parks 
 The cathedral in Catacaos
 Con la Hermana Richan
 With my "Juan"
 El "Juan"
 Obligatory zone photo
 Marcelo, the funniest kid in Peru

 Gourmet dinner with la familia Gomez - shrimp!
 This is a typical Peruvian dog - pobrecito.  
Note from dad: Christine won't admit it but she misses El Jimerito (Jimmer, our dog)

Ignacio Merino week 8 (two weeks late)

Sorry fans, I missed posting this one.  So you should mentally insert this prior to my last post.

-Kevin (Dad)

Hey hey hey familia y amigos!

So this week was kinda tough. Mitchael had a baptismal date for this Saturday, the 29th, but then he got super sick this past weekend and couldn´t make it to church! Darn adversary, haha. So we will have to move his date to next Saturday. Nonetheless, we are super excited for him and hopefully he´s well enough for us to visit him pronto. He is also super busy doing a Master´s theory, but we´re persevering through these setbacks to help him progress! 
Also Gerardo was out of town all week and we tried and failed mutiple times to find/set an appt with Aldo, one of our other investigators who is SO PILAS, just not married (his pareja is less active. I love their family. Just have to get married). We weren´t able to teach La Familia Escudero because they had a crazy week but we did stop by to help Lucia with organizing the new house and she said she feels different every time we visit! Cough, cough, the SPIRIT :) Anyways, all these struggles plus walking what felt like 72 miles and freakin ampoyas (blisters), made for some frustration BUT we found some awesome, awesome new investigators through tocando puertas. 

I´ll share a bit about one of the families: Avanell y Celia. Avanell is grandma age and her husband died not too long ago. She has 3 daughters. One lives in Chiclayo, one works and supports all of them while Avanell takes care of her 2daughters all day every day. Her other daughter Celia who we taught is married with one daughter who was born with several health problems, including a hernia. Her husband lives and works in the US and visits every 6 months and they´re in the process of getting their whole family over there. Anyways, Avanell and Celia are so humble and wept as they opened up to us about their struggles financially to make ends meet and care for the 3 little girls.  We are excited to continue teaching them and hopefully do some service for them as well! 

Just in general the people here are so so very loving. It continually amazes me how fast strangers become our friends here! They barely know anything about us but they let us into their homes and give us refresco to cool off from the heat and half an hour later when we leave we feel so much love for them. I´m so grateful for the people we´ve met and taught tocando puertas that we would´ve never met otherwise! 

Our district is the largest in the mission! 11 of us. Mini zona! All of them are beyond pilas. We have the assistants and then 5 more Elders, all of which work in the office. They only proselyte 4 hours a day and the rest of the time they have assignments as secretaries of health, distribution, finance, etc. They are all hilarious and we have so much fun! I´ve been assigned as the english teacher. For 20=30 mins at the end of district mtg we have an english class. It´s guaranteed one of the funniest parts of the week, haha. I love our district! 

Random notes..

So ya know how people in the US water their grass? Welp, people here water their sand, haha. It kind of cracks me up every time I see someone out there with their hose. I´m pretty sure the purpose is to reduce the amount of dust that gets in their house.
So there´s this dude that is always sitting on the street corner where we live and I was super confused for like 6 weeks of why he was always there and always wearing the same hat and then I asked Hna O and she said that´s the guard for our street. Haha. So yeah, we have a guard.
Also sorry I never have pics with members or people, I´m kind of nervous carrying my camera out for the day. It seems like everyone here has a robbery story. We never really feel unsafe but that would be the worst to lose my camera.
Also you guys should google El Niño for me. Apparently it´s a current that is due to come this summer to northern Peru? Everyone talks about it and some people are literally preparing their houses for it. From what I´ve heard, it´s like 4 months of straight rain and the entire Ignacio Merino floods up to the 2nd floor of all the buildings. Don´t know if I entirely believe it, haha. 
PDAY WAS EPIC. We woke up at 5 to take a bus to Tambo Grande and then a truck to this river. We hung out and had to jump across some sketch spots as we were traversing around the river/waterfall but super fun and no injuries! 

I have a quote and spiritual thought but once again, no time! I´ll share it next week. 

Love you all! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ignacio Merino - visit from Elder Bednar

Editing this post... Christine did send an email, just forgot to include mom and dad on the list of recipients.  Good to know we're not so high on her list!

Many thanks to Josue for the forward, otherwise we would have missed this very cool message...

Guess who got to sit 5 feet away from an Apostle?? This hermana!!!
We were literally front row, and it was the coolest experience ever! I loved Elder Bednar before this week, but now I feel like I love him as a person too, not just as an Apostle. He was super dynamic and funny and he totally said the words ¨stupid¨and ¨trunky¨ during the conf which was not what we expected, haha! 

I learned SO much and the next day as I looked over my notes, I didn´t even know where to start as far as applying his counsel! It was Friday afternoon from 2-5pm, but he didn´t just stand up and speak the whole time. It was in a question-answer format. He asked us questions, we asked questions, it was really cool. He had sent us 3 of his talks a few weeks ago to study before he came and the conference was based on those talks (Ask in faith, Converted Unto the Lord, Seek Learning by Faith). He was super direct with us, but said "I´m direct because I love you"

Here are a few things I learned and I´ll try not to butcher his quotes, of course it was best in person:
1. Agency. "Agency is the most misunderstood principle of the gospel". The term free agency that we use all the time in the church is simply a bad habit. In the scriptures agency is simply agency or moral agency but Elder Bednar taught that it is never free. "Wherefore as you are agents, ye are on the Lord´s errand". He taught that when we are baptized we covenanted to take the Lord´s name upon us, thus our agency becomes representative agency. He said that many say they can do whatever they want because they "have their agency". He asked us if we have the option to keep the commandments and answered for us by saying NO. YOU DON´T. You´ve taken the Lord´s name upon you. It´s no longer your agency. It´s representative agency. (He explained it better than I can). 
Each day I increase in my understanding of my calling. I am a representative of Jesus Christ, and I came to do the will of the Father, just as Christ did during his life on earth. Elder Bednar said that eventually we will not only submit our will to the Father´s, but that will be our desire.My prayers have been changing as I´ve applied this counsel.

2. "We must be SO unconcerned about self. This mission is not about you." 
Let´s be real, the first transfer here was all about me. I was on survival mode for at least the first couple weeks--realizing all of my personal weaknesses, adapting to the culture, improving in the language, and overcoming emotional struggles. My prayers were pleading for help formyself, and I probably talked about myself the most in my emails home. This has changed. I have realized that this mission isn´t about me at all. It´s about the people. My capacity to love has expanded, and poco a poco I have changed my focus to those we teach-- their struggles, their joys, and their journey to come unto Christ. It is 100 times more rewarding this way. I have a long long way to go, but I´m FOREVER grateful for this opportunity to be in Piura, because these people are changing me. 
---About 2 weeks ago I was studying El Ser Genuino by President Uchtdorf from this year´s Priesthood Session. (From now on I´m going to read all the Priesthood session talks because this talk was literally written to me.) He asked the question What is your ministry? Similarly, Elder Soto in the conference asked Elder Bednar simply ¨What do you do as an apostle of The Lord?" Elder Bednar said that this week he met with 1600 missionaries in Peru in different areas. He met with 43 stake presidents and many other leaders. "That´s not what we do." He told a story of visiting a stake during his first year as an Apostle and how he was sent to that stake because he was able to have an interview with a father having problems with the Word of Wisdom. He asked "Do you think that The Lord would send one of his 15 prophets, seers, and revelators halfway around the world to visit one of His children?..He does it all the time." That was so humbling! That´s the ministry of apostles. One by one. It´s also our ministry as missionaries. 

I´ve talked about Carlos Calle before. He´s 80 years old and a recent convert. He is the absolute sweetest and calls US to schedule visits. His year has already passed as a recent convert so when we visit or teach him it doesn´t "count" but I have realized that our ministry is one by one. We read the scriptures with him and answer his questions and help him to do his family history work. During the closing prayer when we visited him a couple weeks back he began to weep and thanked God for sending us to him when he was in the depths of loneliness. The married couple who were accompanying us had tears in their eyes at the end. That is what we do as missionaries. 

Hermano German: He is also a recent convert. He recently moved into our area and a sister missionary Hna O knows told us to find and visit him because he needs a lot of support. He paints cars and struggles daily financially to make ends meet for himself and his 5 year old son. Initially it was almost impossible to find him. I thought we were wasting our time that could be better used on our investigators. But this week we finally found and visited him. We listened to him express his struggles and worries, prayed with him, and set an appt for him to meet with the bishop. The next day he called us and told us that he had found work! It was a miracle. He is one of the most genuine people I´ve met here and I felt so much joy helping him out even though he isn´t an investigator. That´s what we do as missionaries. 

Hermana Avanell: Last week we had visited her and her daughter but the Como Comenzar a Ensenar was long so we only taught the first 2 principles of Lesson 1 and left them the pamphlet to read and pray about. We visited Hna Avanell this week and she had read the pamphlet not one, two, but SIX times. As we taught The Restoration, she was so receptive and accepted our invitation to come to church without hesitation! At 8:30 sharp she was ready to go on Sunday morning and loved church. When we called to schedule an appointment later that night, she said her daughter wants to listen to us as well! (She had been busy with her 2 year old earlier in the week). She may have been the only one of our investigators who made it to church, but it brought me so much joy! That´s what we do as missionaries. 

(Dad can you find the English version for this quote for the blog?)
I think that President Uchtdorf said it perfectly in this quote:
"Parte de su servicio mas impresionante lo brindo en momentos privados, con unos pocos testigos, a quienes pidio que a nadie dijesen lo que habia hecho...ese es nuestro elevado y santo llamamiento-- ser agentes de Jesucristo, amar como El amo, servir como El sirvio, socorrer a los debiles, levantar las manos caidas, y fortalecer las rodillas debilitadas, atender a los pobres y a los necesitados y cuidar de las viudas y los huerfanos."

In English:
He performed some of His most impressive service in private moments, with only a few observers, whom He asked to “tell no man” what He had done.  Brethren, this is our high and holy calling—to be agents of Jesus Christ, to love as He loved, to serve as He served, to “lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees,”  to “look [after] the poor and the needy,” and to care for the widows and orphans.

The most important moments of my mission thus far have been these kinds of moments. 

3. I learned to change my expectation of success. I want SO badly for our investigators to progress and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it´s not always in my own timing.We were so excited this week when one of our investigators, Ricardo started reading the Book of Mormon, showed us his favorite verses excitedly, prayed to know if it was true, and felt peace from the Spirit, And yet, he refuses to come to church because of his family and his previous baptism into the Catholic church as a baby. This was heartbreaking for us, and not the answer we were hoping or expecting. Likewise, Michael has been swamped with work assignments and his Master´s thesis classes, and called us to tell us that he doesn´t feel prepared for baptism. It´s been 2 weeks since we´ve been able to visit him which has been so very hard and we have been praying and fasting to know what to do. Ultimately, these experiences could bring us down but I learned from Elder Bednar to ¨be not weary for we are laying the foundation of a great work" DyC 64, 33. 
Faith precedes action which precedes power. 

I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a missionary. I know that my Savior lives and loves us. I know that he has restored His gospel and church to the earth through living prophets and apostles. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I have learned that my ministry is one by one, just as the Savior´s was. I bear this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

So sorry I didn´t get to reply to individuals this week, and sorry for the novel! Next week for sure. 
Love you all!