Monday, August 29, 2016

Pachacutec - Week 1

The Real Peru

Wow. This week has been the most different, exciting, scary, tiring week of my life.  I am currently in an internet cafe in the city of Pachacutec, which is a suburb of Lima.  My branch is called Los Cedros (which is kind of ironic because there are no cedar trees here) and there are two companionships in Los Cedros, so our areas are Cedros 1 and Cedros 2. And also the other companionship lives in the same apartment as me and Elder Chalampuento, so that's cool. 

There are 10 zones in my mission, 7 in the suburbs of Lima and 3 up the coast. So yeah, Ventanilla is my zone, and it's the biggest zone in the mission as far as missionaries.  The zones in my mission are the same as stake boundaries I'm pretty sure.  Elder Chalampuento is from Bogota, Colombia. He's super cool I know that I was meant to be trained by him.  He is very obedient and a good missionary.  His English is actually not too bad, I can tell he has been studying diligently throughout his mission.  He has 13 months I think.  But he rarely speaks English to me.  He always has a joke to tell, which is really good because I've needed the jokes this last week.  

The other two in my apartment are Elder Mamani from Arequipa, Peru and Elder Sanabria from somewhere in Bolivia.  I swear over half my zone is from Bolivia and there are a lot from Colombia too.  Anyways those two are the best, they are always smiling and such.  South Americans are really touchy.  We shake everyone's hand.  Often two or three times in a conversation.  And if it's someone we know we always hug, getting used to that.  

Anyways so yeah we live in an apartment and it's a three story building, and the owner is this old lady who is not a member and she lives on the first floor, and then we live on the second floor, and the top floor is more of an attic.  We have a sink and a shower in the bathroom but that's all the running water, no kitchen.  We  have a little electric stove thing and microwave, and a mini fridge so we are good.  There normally wouldn't be hot water, but there's this box on the wall that I think came from the mission and heats the water just for the shower so that was definitely a tender mercy. We also have containers of drinking water. 

So yeah we have a Pensionista, she is a member of the branch who lives down the street.  Sometimes we eat with her and her family, but when a male isn't at her house she just gives us the food and we take it back to our apartment to eat. Lunch is usually at 2 in the afternoon.  Her food is dang good though, a lot better than the CCM in my opinion.  Also, we don't take time out of our schedule to eat dinner, so we don't eat dinner until 9:30 at night and it's often just bread or soup.  Elder Chalampuento can cook though, he made me this Colombian pancake the other day for breakfast it was way good.  Sorry I forgot my camera cord, I'll send you pics next week! 

But yeah, the Peru CCM is not real Peru.  This is real Peru. The main road is paved, but the rest are dirt streets.  Dogs everywhere.  But they're nice, they aren't threatening at all because there's always people walking up and down the streets.  And if they seem aggressive all you have to do is crouch down like you are picking up a rock and they run away. My comp hasn't been bitten yet so I think I'm fine in that area.  It's cool, our area is basically all one big hill, and we can see the ocean not too far away, but unfortunately we aren't allowed to go there on p-day.  

Culture shock is real.  My companion is learning to speak slowly when talking to me, and it's getting better, but the first few days I couldn't understand anything anyone said, and the problem is not the words, it's the speed and the accents.  If someone were to talk very clearly I probably could understand them, but it's getting better.  I'm at the point where sometimes I can guess what they are saying.  The branch is good, I'm still trying to learn everyone's names and such. Love you all! Hast next week.

Elder Harris

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

MTC - Week 5

Last Week in the CCM

First of all, last week we went to the temple and the name I went through for was Mr. Harris from England, born in 1549. So yeah, if that's not cool I don't know what is.  Today was the last time we got to go to the temple while in the CCM (I'm not sure if I get to go while on my mission) and so I did the session in Spanish and it turned out okay, I understood pretty much everything. But, I mean it helped a lot to have gone so many times in English so that even if i didn't understand the words, I knew what was going on.

Also more about the food. They have these purple olives here and they hide them in the food. Like really, one night we had these stuffed potato things and there was one random purple olive in the middle. They taste like they've been dipped in acid. Even the Latinos that we've talked to don't like them. And Elder Hunsaker hadn't tried one yet, and I told him I would give him my cake if he ate it, and he couldn't do it, he had to spit it out. That's how bad they are. 

I don't know if i already said this, but my district has been helping Hermana Moore in her wheelchair, carrying her up and down the stairs every night because there's no elevators here. She always gives us some kind of snack when we do it too so its great. 

There's tour groups that come through the CCM every Saturday for HEFY and it's weird because they look in at us through the windows of our classrooms. Kind of like a zoo haha. We want to put up a sign that says please don't feed the missionaries. 

This coming Monday, the day before we leave, we have the whole afternoon to pack and prepare to leave and do laundry. Then on Tuesday the ones who are flying to their missions leave at whatever time their flight is. I think for all the Lima missions we meet at the church that's right next to the CCM at like 6 am and then a bus takes us to our mission home. But all the buses I've been on (except during proselyting) have been private type charter buses so I'm assuming we will take that and not a public city bus. I'm pretty sure Monday will be my new P day, so I probably won't email next week.

The scriptures are true when they say ask and ye shall receive, I've had so many gospel questions while I've been here, and I started writing them down. The answer always comes with study and prayer.  Love you guys!

Til next week!

Roommates pictured left to right:  E. Amann, E Jardine, E. Hunsaker, E. Reukert, E. Me, E. Fawcett.  Reukert and Fawcett are going to Cusco and Amman is going to Iquitos.  The rest are going to Lima West.

Elder Hunsaker

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

MTC - Week 4

Chevre Means Cool

Que tal! So I need to start out with the proselyting experience. So all 40 of us get on this bus outside the CCM and we drive for probably 20 minutes through Lima. This city is seriously so big. And trashy. And perros (dogs). 

So we get to this church and it's in the Lima East Mission. To be honest I was pretty scared after seeing the city and all the people and whatnot. But they have a little orientation telling us what we are going to be doing, and they assign us to some other missionaries in the Lima East Mission. It was cool because we got to see some of the guys that were in the CCM a week ago. And so Elder Hunsaker, Elder Bumstead, and I went with a Peruvian from Trujillo named Elder Sanchez who had only been on his mission 3 months so he knows zero English. 

And we start walking, we walked like a block and then suddenly a bus stopped and we got on. The ceiling was short enough that we were all hitting our heads on it. Another group of 4 missionaries was also on the bus with us, and their experienced missionary was a North American who had been out a year. But he had the latino accent. And his clothes were wore out and everything. But the thing I noticed the most about him was how happy he was. 

Anyway, we are on the bus for probably 15 minutes and we passed this big market where everyone was selling and buying stuff. People walk down the middle of the road in between traffic selling stuff to people in their cars, it's so crazy. 

And then we finally get his area and we go into this little house of a newly baptized convert who wasn't attending church. And so we taught the restoration and I got to share the first vision, it was pretty cool, but something wasn't right because the spirit just wasn't there. This guy was probably in his twenties, and he had really big expensive speakers and a nice TV in his tiny house. 

One thing that's kind of mind blowing for me is none of the houses here have yards. Like there's no room, the whole block is full of buildings. It seems really disorganized, but it's cool. And then we just went street contacting. Elder Sanchez wanted us to participate, but really we would just take turns out of the 3 of us introducing ourselves and then Elder Sanchez would take over. I think I got a little bit of culture shock because I started getting frustrated. On the way back we got a taxi and the taxi driver was trying to talk to me but I just couldn't understand what he was saying and he would just laugh at me.

When we got back to the CCM everyone was telling stories and there were some good ones, like Elder Reukert (who sleeps below me in our room) got bit by a dog, and Elder Fawcett got kissed on the face by a girl during a teaching lesson haha. 

But oh it's also true that some of the houses don't have roofs, at least partially. Like we knocked on one and we looked through the hallway and there was no roof haha. 

One thing about the food, sometimes they have shredded chicken in the eggs in the morning haha its weird. And also one thing I don't like a lot about the food here is that there is not very much cheese. I love cheese, but it's alright. 

Quick story so the elders in my district really miss barbeque sauce, and so they made a deal with our teacher, Hermano Sosa, that if we went a whole day only speaking Spanish that he would buy us a bottle of it. And we did it. But we don't have the barbeque sauce yet haha. It was so hard though haha, I probably only said twenty words in English all day. 

Yeah so sometimes during companionship study Elder Hunsaker and I read out loud from the Book of Mormon in Spanish together to help with the fluency. The spirit is so strong here at the CCM. I could feel the difference when I got back from proselyting. I feel like I've learned more about the gospel and Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation than I ever have. There have been so many times already where I have prayed for help with something that I was particularly struggling with and seriously the following day it always gets better. The Lord answers prayers. Love you all, hasta next week.

- Elder Harris

We got haircuts last week when the principantes came. (Clarification - they were professional barbers, not Elder Fife)

Elder Fife cutting Elder Amann's hair

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

MTC - Week 3

El Medio

¿Que en el mundo?

Hola everyone! Week 3 in the CCM has been pretty great. Yesterday all of the latinos and the avenzados (the missionaries that have been here since June 21) left for their missions. It was a little sad because some of them were pretty good friends. And so today there's a whole new batch of 35 principantes (North American six weekers) and around 70 latinos. They were really noisy last night at 3 am haha and woke us up, but it's chill. It's weird to think that only 3 weeks ago I was in their situation.

So fun fact, on Thursday Hermana Moore was playing volleyball with some hermanas (shes like 70) and she fell down and broke her left wrist and left ankle. She had surgery on Monday and now she's in a wheelchair for a while. Its kind of sad, but she's just as happy and excited about life as ever. She's awesome.

Our branch presidency is really cool. The first counselor, Elder Hansen, has been a mission president in Veracruz Mexico and last Sunday he showed us pictures and talked about his mission, it was
cool.  He's a really good teacher as well. And the second counselor, the mental health doctor Australian guy, Elder Raeside, was telling us about how he went to Iquitos this week and how it was all jungely and he had an encounter with a sloth, and ate piranhas. Elder Amann (who is the only one going to Iquitos) was pretty excited. He always gets chastised because we are supposed to wear our suites to devotionals and on Sundays, but he was told not to bring a suite so he doesn’t have one. In our room sometimes we just think of ways that he is most likely going to die in the jungle it's fun.

So apparently Elder Renlund is coming to Peru sometime in August. So that will be cool if its actually true. 

Sundays are really cool because we usually watch a devotional from the Provo MTC, like one was with Elder Bednar and another with Elder Scott. They're always really good.

I get to go proselyting for real on Saturday! Its only for like a few hours but man I'm so excited to get outside the walls and see the realworld.

Our district has this thing where we only speak Spanish from lunch to dinner, excluding recess (physical activity). It's really tough, but it's kind of cool to find out how much I actually can say if I'm forced to. And the consequence is planchas (pushups).

So it's interesting how they teach Spanish at the CCM. I was expecting to have classes like a high school Spanish class all day long but that’s not how it is. We only have one hour per day where the teacher actually teaches us grammar principles. And thus far I've only had one grammar principle that I hadn’t known from high school and it was taught yesterday. So basically here, they teach you a little bit, but the most important thing they do here is teach you how to teach yourself. It's really frustrating because I just want to be taught from a teacher, but really everything I need is in the grammar book and my other resources. 

They have a thing called your language study plan and it's supposed to outline exactly what you're going to study during language study and TALL. I'm still trying to figure it out haha, because usually I just study whatever I feel like in the moment.

Anyways love you all! Ask me some questions. Hasta la proxima semana!

Elder Harris

District Pic.  No time for names, sorry.  Except Elder Amann is the one in the black flexing, he's going to Iquitos.  The rest are going to Lima West, except Elder Anderson with the blue shirt in the middle, he left yesterday for Lima South

Elder Ortega from Columbia going to Arequipa.  Super cool guy, knew a lot of English

Elder Davilla.  He and his comp only knew one phrase in English.  Go To Sleep!  And they said it all the time.

This is Elder Inga.  He left Yesterday, but he was way cool.  He's from Lima I thing and he's serving in Huancayo.

Elder Ordonez from Honduras serving in Arequipa.  He was the best at soccer and his nickname was Elder Gringo because he always mad fun of us gringos.  And he played on the gringo team during soccer.

I gave Elder Inga my red tie.

Lomo Saltado!  So so so good.  And the pink potatoes and beets were okay too.  The little brown round potatoes are arguably the most tasty things I've ever eaten.

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