It All Starts With One

Hola familia y amigos…

So first off, I feel like I was a little too “doom and gloom” with my description of the mail system last week. Dad, I actually got your DearElder letter on Tuesday. Did you send it by DearElder, by the pouch, or by both? Whichever way you sent it, it came relatively quickly, so that´s probably a good way to go in the future. (Spread the word. :)) It was really great to hear from you, btw. I love how you´re becoming the person in the family that always looks up things on Wikipedia, like how I used to be. 🙂 Anyways, everyone, keep sending letters, emails, whatever strikes your fancy…I love getting them all. 🙂 Plus…I finally finished the big letter today! It actually exists, and it´s all done. I´ll send it off either today or sometime this week. (Dad, your very belated birthday card is also enclosed.) Now, a little catch-up from last week´s email:
  • So, my two Spanish stories from two weeks ago: Remember how I killed a gecko in the shower once? If you didn´t know that, I did. It was exciting. (And I felt a little bad for the gecko afterwards. It could have been the Geico gecko´s cousin… :)) I was telling that story to our pensionista family, and I said ´gecko´ to try to see what the translation in Spanish was, and they said it was the same in Spanish. However, they actually misunderstood…there´s a statue here (I have a few pictures with it in Arequipa that I´ll send later on) called “ekeko,” and that´s what they thought I was talking about. So I was saying basically that one time in the shower, I killed a wooden statue that´s about my size. I have to admit, the mental image is pretty hilarious. 🙂 The other experience happened when we were teaching an investigator at his doorstep. I was meaning to ask him “¿Ha orado antes?” (“Have you prayed before?”), but instead asked him “¿He orado?” (“Have I prayed before?”). Yep…bit of a difference there. He was kind of confused (his train of thought was probably something along the lines of “why is this weird man asking me if he´s prayed before???”) Thankfully, we all laughed it off after I realized my mistake. 🙂
  • Part of our area, we discovered recently, is in the neighboring district of Tacna, called Pocollay. (Most of Pocollay is part of the ward named, fittingly, Pocollay, and is covered by a pair of sister missionaries.) It´s quite nice…and they had a field…with cows! It made me very happy, as you may have guessed.
  • I totally forgot last week to talk about Elder Flores´ birthday…it was tons of fun. We had pizza, our pensionista family made him a cake, our zone sang to him…all that jazz. So remember that picture I sent with us and his former pensionista (with her sister & mom) from Arequipa? She was visiting Tacna that week from Arequipa, we went to her sister´s house to have a little lunch…and chocolate cake. But not just any chocolate cake. It was quite honestly one of the most delicious, incredibly amazing cakes I have ever eaten in my life. We ate it the following Tuesday at our district meeting…and I was in heaven. Ahhhh. This past week, we were at the house of a family in the ward, and she and her mom stopped by, since they know that family a bit. We had lunch with them, she came by, and after about an hour or so of talking with them, she brought out…the same chocolate cake. And my goodness, it was just as delicious the second time around. I pretty much want to marry it. (She promised to make me one later on…and joked that I can have it all to myself. :))

I think that´s pretty much all I needed to catch up on. Now, to this week…and a big event that I´m really excited to tell you all about…

  • We had a baptism on Saturday! We´ve been teaching a part-member family since probably our first week here…it´s kind of a long story, but the parents (in their 50s) are members, but inactive. We were visiting less-active members in the ward our first week, using the old ward directory we had, and found that those parents have a daughter in her mid-20s, named Maria, with a 9-year-old daughter of her own, Lucero. They (the members) also have a 10-year-old son, Eduardo, and he´s who we baptized this past Saturday. I got the chance to baptize him…and it was amazing. (This was my first baptism in Peru. And the first person I baptized in the mission field. :)) The baptismal service wasn´t grand…for example, the baptismal fonts here are almost always adjacent to the kitchen, so we had it in the kitchen…but the Spirit was definitely present, and it was a wonderful experience. The pictures attached are actually from my companion´s camera, since I forgot to bring mine today. I played the piano, too. Hermano Mahonri, from our pensionista family (he´s also the second counselor in the bishopric) sang “When I Am Baptized,” and asked me to accompany him…right before he sang. (It was kind of a last-minute addition to the program.) I didn´t have my Spanish Children´s Songbook, so I pretty much had to make it up as I went. I remembered the first part, but beyond that…I´m very glad there weren´t any musical people present, because no one seemed to notice that every other bar or so of my accompaniment sounded really off. 🙂 (Basically, I need to work on my improvisational skills.)
  • So…I´m going to tell you guys about something right now, and I need you to promise me you won´t freak out. It´s all good now. I promise. No worrying. Our beds were infested with fleas. Yeah. Not fun. I still have a bunch of bites, but I´m taking some pills Hermana Fernandez (mission president´s wife/mission nurse) prescribed for me to take for them, and they seem to be going down. We fumigated our room, sent all our blankets & sheets out to be dry-cleaned, and the fleas are all dead. And I promise it´s not as bad as it sounds. It was frustrating, but we took care of it.
  • And while we´re talking of crazy things that have happened, a few things about this past Sunday at church:
    • My hymnbook nearly fell off the keyboard while I was playing the sacramental hymn. It slid down a bit, and I had to be very careful playing the rest of the hymn to make sure it didn´t slide down onto the keys. 🙂
    • Eduardo´s confirmation was a bit interesting. Three high priests from the ward confirmed him, and the person who was speaking at first tried to confirm…I´ll use my name in place of his…”Randall Brandon Alberto Smith.” Sigh. It worked out fine, though.
    • Remember Fido? The family that owns him came to church this week, which was great…but Fido also followed them. We were talking to the bishop about something after sacrament meeting, and all of a sudden Fido ran past us and into the building. The things that happen in Tacna… 🙂
  • Food this week: It´s been really good. Like really good. Aside from a second time eating that amazing cake, I´ve eaten hamburgers (Peruvian-style…it´s basically a really, really, really flat patty of meat, but it tasted so amazing), salchipapas (sausage with french-fry style potatoes…mmmm), and more awesome dishes with noodles. 🙂
  • So I realized this week I have insect repellent. That I personally bought. It doesn´t work for fleas (that´s why I got it out, to see if it could help), but it does with…chiggers. I never realized I could have used it in Kansas. (And oh, could I have used it. I still have like 6 chigger bites that still haven´t healed completely.) Sigh…my mind sometimes.
  • I´m running out of time, so let´s see…oh! Mom and Ariel, I have a question. What mission is Rebekah Ellingson serving in? I was talking to my companion about her, and I thought she was serving in Guatemala, but I can´t remember.
  • Also directed to Mom and Ariel…about the memory card I sent, and the pictures I still don´t have yet…you guys can probably just send them all by email, if that´s easier, and I can put them on the flash drive I have. (Elder Flores gave me one of his, very generously.) You can compress the files so they´re easier to send, or something like that…anyways, let me know if that´s fine. (I´d love to have those pictures soon, because, conveniently, they´re the only pictures I have with sister missionaries on my mission so far, and Elder Flores doesn´t believe that they exist. 🙂 That, and they´re a huge chunk of my time at the MTC, and I´ve been without them for quite a while.) 
  • Ariel, I´ll send you an email next week about music…I may have a solution that is much easier than sending me all my MoTab CDs. 🙂 (Though if you´ve already sent some, I´ll be glad to receive them.)

So, I have to wrap up. It´s actually been a very good week for me. My teaching has gotten better, I´m participating more in contacts and lessons, and really, I just feel good about how this week has gone. Dad, many thanks for your counsel in your email. (Only you would send an email that quotes Tone Loc, D&C, and the Bible. :)) I´m so thankful to be a missionary, to be here, to be with the companion I´m with, to have the love and support of my family, my Heavenly Father…everything. I love you guys all so much, and know that while things aren´t going perfectly, they´re going very well, and I feel like they´re going to keep getting better. 🙂

Con muchísimo amor,
Elder RandallImageImageImage
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