Monday, February 29, 2016

The latest from Talara

Well, my companion is currently sitting next to me writing her LAST email home as a missionary -- so I´m glad I don´t have that kind of pressure :) 
This is going to be shorter today, hopefully the dozens of pictures compensate! 
Here are some things I learned this week: 
- Cockroaches do not die -- even if you try to drown them. (they seem to come out at night so we kill about 10 every time we get home at night)
- How to prep maiz to make tamales and peel tamarindo fruits! 
- Bolivianas can cook! -- learned that from my intercambio with Hna Mamani!
- Hna Shumway can fall asleep literally´s a gift :)
- Our skin isn´t the only thing that can burn day this week we accidentally left our bananas and avocados on top of the microwave at the window and when we came back they were BLACK, the sun was so strong that day.
- Earthquakes are totally possible here in Talara! I was sitting at my desk on Friday when all of a sudden it felt like someone was behind me shaking the chair I was in... I was like ¨Hermana Shumway we are going through an earthquake right now!!¨ Turned out to be just like 10 seconds.
- And as much as I love the dust here, I got an eye infection this week -- not fun! Luckily it went away after a couple days. But I promise I still love Peru :)

It was a great week here in Talara -- Hna Shumway and I couldn´t stand up after companionship prayer last night, we were too exhausted!
We had a cool experience at a family night with Familia Eche on Monday. We taught The Restoration then went around and had everyone list off the blessings they´ve received thanks to The Restoration of the gospel. Let me tell ya, that list is LONG. Priesthood, temples, the book of mormon, seminary, all the organizations, prophets, apostles, revelation, the hymns, doctrine and covenants, the pearl of great price, it´s literally endless. Then we talked about how their friends, family, and neighbors NEED those blessings -- it was really effective and everyone got the point. The more I´m here, the more gratitude I have for the blessings I´ve received as a member of this church, and the greater my desire to PROCLAIM/ SCREAM/ YELL this message to all who will listen. 
On my intercambio with Hna Mamani we walked the pioneer trek plus some...probably. I´m telling you, every less active, investigator, contact, and rescatado wasn´t home or couldn´t receive us. We ended up contacting and contacting and knocking on doors and more contacting. It was just about 7:00 when we had consejo de rama so we decided to hit #50 contacts and call it good -- AND THE FIFTIETH CONTACT LET US IN. Lizbeth is now reading the Book of Mormon and wants to come to church! I can testify to what President told us once: ¨Los milagros se encuentran al fondo de nuestra fe¨ 
Translation would be something like this -- Miracles are found at the end of your faith. 
As I said, we were pretty exhausted last night and it´s probably because in a single weekend we had: A multizone conference, branch noche misional, room inspections in Sullana & Talara, Leslye´s baptism, lunch with President and his wife, and 2 district conference sessions. AH! It was nuts. I honestly don´t know how we survived -- or how we´re going to survive because we haven´t done weekly planning for this week yet :) 
Anyways, life is so good and so fulfilling! My spiritual thought is from President Ras. at our multizone conference. He said: NEVER leave a house until you have invited someone to participate in an ordinance of the gospel -- (baptism for investigators, priesthood for young men who don´t have it yet, endowments for members who don´t have it yet, sealing for those who don´t have it yet, the sacrament for those who aren´t attending church, etc.)
It puts it all in perspective when we do that -- we are Heavenly Father´s instruments to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man -- and the ordinances of the gospel will get us there. 
It is SO WEIRD being companions with someone who is going home so soon! I could list off what I´ve learned from Hna Shumway but I physically can´t because there are SO MANY things!! I´m so glad to have made another best friend who inspires me to do better every day and shows me what it means to be Christ-like. I´m planning to enjoy ever second with her this week!!! Wish me luck as I find out who my new companion will be on Saturday!!
Hermana Parks
Bus ride

Peeling tamarindos

peeling tamarindos while SWEATING


Don't leave me!

Our favorite place for chalacas

Multi-zone conference

our little friend

It rained. So I took a photo.  Proof.

lunch the Rasmussens

Leslye's baptism

checking out the hermanas' room

branch selfie

the young women of the Talara branch - they are always so willing to help!

Found this photo of Hna Pulsipher (of Medford, OR when she was serving in Bolivia over a year ago) in the home of la Familia Eche

Hna Mamani whipped out a fruit salad, and garlic noodles with avocado, tomato, and lime in like 15 mins! #goals 
Also she is seriously the coolest! -- she has a farm in Bolivia and one of her favorite pastimes is milk the cows!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Talara, continued

Story time! So, we were knocking on doors around 8:30 or
9 and ended up teaching a lesson to a couple new investigators until like 9:25pm  when we had to race home to get there on time. So we were running down the street to our house and a little girl behind us yelled ¨Hermanas!¨ so I went to turn around and of course there was a pot hole or something at the exact moment and next thing I knew I was DOWN. Hermana Shumway literally couldn´t contain herself she was laughing so hard -- I got some beautiful road rash and about half our street got to watch me fall -- the things we do to be home on time! haha. 

Busy week this week! On Thursday we had the sisters training meeting in Piura! ALL the hermanas from the whole mission were there! (I think there´s like 45 of us). A couple weeks ago President Rasmussen had asked me to give a presentation on Como Comenzar a Bautizar -- so I´ll give you a little background on that...
During my transfer in Piura Central we had a district leader named Elder Beltran who was my zone leader in Ignacio Merino for like 3 transfers -- basically one of the most hard working missionaries to ever live on planet earth -- and he came up with this thing called Como Comenzar a Bautizar (We missionaries know it as the section How to Begin Teaching in preach my gospel but he changed it to be How to Begin Baptizing). There are specific steps to it -- all for the FIRST VISIT with investigators. I´ll give you a run-down, but more than anything, CCAB is to be able to teach more directly and simply. (And let´s see if I can do this in English..haha)

1. We use the phrase ¨We are representatives of Jesus Christ...¨ (because we are:) 
2. We explain our purpose -- clearly and directly -- to help people repent and be baptized. (Peru already has a ton of faith in God so we don´t focus on that principle -- we go straight into repentance and baptism). 
3. We teach The Restoration very simply, focusing every principle on THE AUTHORITY TO BAPTIZE. For ex, the prophets had the authority to baptize, Christ gave this authority to his apostles when he established his church, this authority was lost during the Apostasy, it was restored by the prophet Joseph Smith. 
4. We invite them to be baptized and then put a baptismal date or resolve their doubt, depending on their response.
5. And then of course leave commitments (read, pray, go to church), promise specific blessings (as authorized representatives of Christ), and give testimony. 

There´s more to it but that´s the run-down. AND IT WORKED. Hermana Christianson and I started seeing a ton of success and increase in efficiency in our work -- our district´s numbers were super high and President asked us what we were doing...Hna C and I started sharing CCAB with all the hermanas during intercambios, then when I came to Talara I presented it for the zone...and then this past Thursday for the sisters training! We did an example, practices, and talked about teaching the doctrine of Christ SIMPLY AND DIRECTLY. (Because as sisters sometimes we beat around the bush).
I was honestly super nervous but it went really well and I feel like I learned a lot in preparing for it! 

While at the training Hna C told me that Piura Central has 8 investigators with baptismal dates and I was like WHAT. Oh man, not going to lie, I really wished I hadn´t been transferred in that moment. But one of Hna Rasmussen´s friends from California gave her testimony at the end of the meeting and told us ¨You are EXACTLY where you need to be¨ and I know she said that for me. I´ve learned about humility this week -- being happy for other people´s success (and honestly every ¨success¨ in this work is nothing more than a blessing from God), and doing the Lord´s will with a happy heart. This scripture helped me a ton -- 
Talara was pretty hard when I got here, but it´s EXACTLY where I need to be. 
¨And now I do not know all things: but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.¨ Words of Mormon 1:7

Also I had an intercambio with Hna Richan this week! This would be my 2nd intercambio with her because we were in the same zone back in Ignacio! It was so fun and she is seriously the sweetest person ever. I was leading the area this time which was a great opportunity to forget myself and get to work! We had a super exhausting and awesome day. A funny moment was when we were teaching a couple new investigators and their dog was literally possessed by the adversary on the roof barking THE WHOLE TIME. So at the end as I was explaining the function of the Spirit I told them straight up -- The Spirit is the opposite of your dog. They laughed and got the point, haha. Also we got to teach a Jehovah´s Witness who was ACTUALLY RECEPTIVE. Miracles do happen :)

Katy, Angelo, and Lucas are progressing so well! We had a super cool lesson this week following the Spirit -- Angelo hadn´t been reading or coming to church and we knew that we needed to address that. So I started out asking him and Lucas how they prepare for a soccer game. I´m telling you, Angelo was a COMPLETELY different person once we got him talking about soccer, haha. We then asked what would happen if he missed a week of practice, etc. and related it to church attendance and reading scriptures! We also read in Alma 49 about Moroni preparing for war. THEY TOTALLY GOT IT. They came to church and we assigned Angelo to read the chapter about the stripling warriors and he was SO INTO IT. 

This week I learned a lot about teaching people, not lessons -- and following the Spirit to do so.
We taught a less active who basically doesn´t want to come to church because her husband wants to be sealed to his deceased first wife in addition to his current wife. I literally had no idea what to tell her in that moment but the Spirit helped us -- and I asked her if she is praying with her husband daily. She said no. So we committed her to do so. We didn´t have a specific solution to her problem, but the Spirit guided us to know what to say. 

Also we had a super powerful lesson with our recent convert Hna Maribel. She asked us some tough questions like ¨So is my family going to spirit prison?¨ (her family doesn´t even know she´s been baptized...they are WAY Catholic..). And ¨What can I do to endure to the end when it´s so hard sometimes? and ¨How can I forgive someone that did something almost unforgiveable to me? OH MAN. That moment was critical -- and we ended up having an amazing conversation about the Atonement and how Christ forgave those who crucified him. 

Overall, I´ve learned that the SPIRIT is the real teacher in this work...we can´t do it alone. 
I love this work -- it´s boiling hot every day but we have identified every house in our area that sells chalacas so we´re surviving :) 

Hermana Parks 
Kati and family's bunnies and Hna Richan

Hna Liliana and her family on her birthday

Pizza with our recent convert Maribel

My road rash (story above)

Sunrise en route to Piura

sister conference selfies

With Hna Rasmussen

Matching with Hnas Shumway and Ingram not on purpose

All of my companions up to this point

My entire CCM group

With Hna Christianson and Hna Shumway

Ride back to Talara

Egg sandwiches

Chalacas de mango

Member Richardson and his novia Leslie who will be baptized this week

one of our favorites: arroz con pollo y papas a la huaincana

Con la familia Eche

A lizard friend

This morning in Catacaos

This is the only type of ceviche we can eat... no raw fish.