Hola, familia y todos…
- So Elder W. Christopher Waddell visited our mission 2 weeks ago. We had a conference with him, and it was absolutely terrific. He served his mission in Barcelona, and also served as a mission president there, so he spoke entirely in Spanish. (Very fluently, but with the Spanish lisp on the “S.” I always twitch when I hear it, I have to admit. :)) I played piano for the conference here in Arequipa, which was kind of crazy, because I´ve never played for a Seventy before. And during the intermediate hymn, “In Our Lovely Deseret,” the fans were blowing and my page kept blowing, and I kept having to straighten it up, and basically I had to play with one hand for more than half the hymn. Awkward. But I don´t think anyone noticed. He also greeted us all personally (a little receiving-line type thing), and I told him I was from Arizona, naturally. He joked, “We have a lot of members there, don´t we?” (or something along those lines), and I responded, “Yeah, a few.” 🙂 I´d love to talk about a bit about what he talked about in the conference…but that might have to wait for a future date. Just know for now that it was a terrific experience.
- I never told you guys this before…I´ve always been meaning to. Every so often in Tacna, when I introduced myself, we´d try to have people guess where I was from. In Tacna, starting out, many guessed correctly that I was from the US, though there were some that thought I was Latino. Here…wow. I think more than half the people I´ve met here have thought initially that I was from a Latin country. I´ve heard Ecuador (feel free to rejoice, Mom), Mexico, Spain, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, here in Peru (more than a few times)…all kinds of things. Once in a while, people pick up on my last name and recognize it´s American, but most I think are thrown off. So I guess I do look a lot like you, Mom. And I guess my Spanish is doing well…because I´m sure fooling a lot of people. I love it. 🙂
- Weird coincidences when I got here: The street we live on is named Tacna. On the bus to Arequipa, they were playing Vicente Fernandez movies (as you remember, Elder Serrano, my second-to-last companion that I was then leaving, is from Mexico) that I didn´t watch (I was tired, I´m a missionary, and from the little glances I saw as I was trying to fall asleep, they were really random). And the husband of our pensionista has the same first name as Elder Flores…Gerson. Crazy times.
My new companion, who I met on Wednesday, is Elder Montenegro. He´s from Panama…apparently, the first missionary from Panama (ever???) to serve the Peru Arequipa Mission. (So I´m the first missionary here with a Panamanian son. No pressure. :)) OK, so I really don´t have too much to talk about this week. To be brutally honest…I feel like I´m not doing really well in training. My companion has a very different personality than me, he gets a little impatient because I still don´t know the area well and stuff (I feel a bit like Pink Panther 2: “Let me bring you up to speed. We know nothing. You are now up to speed.” :)), and I don´t know. Right now, I feel frustrated and not very excited and all kinds of mixed emotions. He´s a good missionary…he´s ready to work, not afraid to talk, and he´s a good person…but I don´t know. I just don´t feel my best. And I don´t feel like I can help him…or that he trusts me. A bit heavy, I know, for a group email home, but yeah. I´ll work on it, though. And one really good thing about this week is that I´ve really grown in talking more, leading the area, being a senior companion. I feel good about that, so that´s a plus. I´m growing to love the area…our branch president is terrific. We´ve gone out with him the past two Saturdays and he really loves the people he serves. I´m very happy to have him working with us. Our pension is terrific, too. I´m eating quite well. (No more bananas yet, but we´ll see. :)) She totally wants to make lasagna, so Mom, por favor send the recipe as soon as you can. I love you guys so much…don´t worry about me. You can be concerned about me if you wish…but I don´t want you all to worry. I´ll be fine. 🙂 You´re all in my prayers, like always. Stay strong, wherever you are. 🙂