Hi, familia y todos…
- FINALLY I didn´t have an emergency transfer. This one was normal and I actually had all of Sunday to say goodbye to people. (Most of them in the chapel at Church…we kind of ran out of time in the evening to visit people.) They called on Saturday night, and those who had transfers all left Monday morning. From our zone, we only had two leaving (Hunter seems to have very little transfers…it´s possibly kind of a forgotten zone… :)), Elder Mackay and I. (Insert reminder for Ariel to write him here. It can have the added benefit now of seeing how he´s doing in his new area.) We had both been in Hunter forever, so it was kind of a given that we had transfers. It was hard to leave Augusto Freyre…it was a terrific area for me, even if the last two transfers were a bit rocky. (Elder Quilcat and I ended well, after many talks and everything. I learned a lot from our time together.) So many memories, so many amazing people I´m going to have to run all over the place to visit in May…just awesome. And after 7 months being there, it´s hard and different to be somewhere else. But those are transfers. And I´m incredibly grateful for all that time I had there.
- So where am I now? (“Where in the world/Is Carmen Sandiego?” How many of you remember that show? :)) A place called Ilo, about 4 hours south from Arequipa. It´s a coastal town, which means…the ocean is RIGHT THERE, in our face. I really like it. The problem…it´s hot. And humid. The heat is less than Arizona, for sure, but I´ve gotten used to Arequipa not being that hot, and the humidity…I was not prepared. At all. I´m sweating like a dog. But…I´ll get used to it. After all, Kansas was humid too, and after a bit, I was able to deal with it a bit. Mom, as I told you in your email, you would hate it here, but I´m going to make you all visit someday, so prepare yourself now. 🙂 It´s a much smaller city than Arequipa, but nice. We´re in the high part (Alto Ilo), and don´t have an ocean view exactly from our area, but it´s still so different and nice having the ocean so close. Now if it could only be a little cooler… 🙂 Ilo has a stake, and we are serving in a branch, with 2 pairs of missionaries, which will be interesting. (I´ve never been in an area like that, although there are quite a few now in our mission.)
- My companion is from Ecuador. Yes, Mom, tu tierra. 🙂 (And this time I doubt we´ll only be together a week, like my last Ecuadorean companion…he was weird and crazy, too, anyway.) His name is Elder Hidalgo and he´s really chill (I know, not a very missionary-like word, but it fits him well)…so different from Elder Quilcat. I think since Elder Serrano, I´ve had a pattern of companions that are very, well, chill, and ones that are difficult to deal with. Elder Serrano was tranquilo (sorry, can´t think of another word in English besides “chill” to describe him… :)), Elder Montenegro, we were crazy different and had issues, as you all know, but learned a lot, Elder Murdock was amazing and we got along great, Elder Quilcat was…very unique, and now Elder Hidalgo seems to be quite easy to get along with. This should be a great companionship. We´ll see how things go. Anywho, don´t know the area too much yet, the humidity is going to murder me, but I´m happy…more than anything because although things are crazy different, I know without a doubt I´m here in Ilo because the Lord needs me here. The transfers are His. Presidente Zobrist and the assistants may carry them out, but they´re His. And thus, I know that I´ll be just fine. Plus, our pension is amazing. It will be a good time here.
- Oh, and the bus ride…meh. But I did have Dramamine (Hna. Pugmire was able to get me some, Dad), and it helped a bit, and I was able to sleep a bit on the way here too. Also, I got to see some parts of the mission I hadn´t seen before (the way to Ilo is a different way than the way to Tacna…btw, I´m now 2 hours from Tacna and 1 hour from where Elder Murdock is…if we have a big conference, we will go to it with those zones, and also apparently we play soccer and stuff with them sometimes, so I hope we do so soon, because I want to see him again, and also meet my “grandchild” :)), which was interesting. I don´t know if it was better or not traveling during the day instead of night, but at least it was much lighter, and a bit more convenient afterwards for the zone leaders to pick me up from the bus terminal.
- So, rewinding back to Augusto Freyre…it was a good last week there, and the ward gave me a great goodbye…well, they didn´t throw a party or anything, but yeah, I was able to more or less bring things to a close nicely. They actually have a baptism for this week already, Felix that I told you about last week, and one for next week too, a 9-year-old whose aunt and grandma are all members, and lives in another part of Arequipa, but wants to get baptized in Augusto. (And wants to get baptized in general.) She just came right out of the blue. Merry Christmas, Elder Quilcat and his new companion… 🙂
- Our recent convert I´ve told you about, Alejandra, got a calling! She´s now a Relief Society coordinator. She´s still doing terrifically.
- On Sunday, a lot of less-active people that haven´t come for a while came to Church, the majority on their own. It was great. Two of them were the parents, two of their children are active, and they decided to start coming back to Church after a while. We visited them on Sunday and the elders will be visiting them to teach them the lessons again.
- So Mom, the nativity…they´re going to keep it there, and pack it up nicely, and when I come back to visit in May, I´ll…pick it up and try to take it with me. But if you want to come get me…you can get it yourself. Just a suggestion. 🙂
- Oh! How did I almost forget this…so this week, we had two meetings with Elder C. Scott Grow of the Seventy (secound counselor in the Area Presidency). The first was Friday night, a meeting for us and ward council members for all of Arequipa. The second was for us missionaries only (once again all of Arequipa), on Saturday morning. It was an amazing opportunity to get to hear from a Seventy once again, and Elder Grow was great…he had lots of amazing counsel, and was pretty funny besides. I got to play the piano for both the Friday meeting and the Saturday one…that was pretty nice. It´s been a while since I´ve got to play piano for a mission conference. I was also able to say goodbye to Elder Serrano, who ends his mission this transfer, in February. I´m going to miss him, but he´s served a great mission, and was an amazing companion.
- So my first pensionista in Tacna (Hna. Jeremy) and her husband are apparently living here in Ilo now, but I don´t know where. I´m currently looking for them…hopefully I´ll be able to see them soon. I´d love to see how they´re doing. It´s a small world…
- Last night, while with the zone leader until his new companion arrived (very late…we went to pick him up with the zone leader in our pajamas… :)), we were present for a call opening for a young woman in the ward of the zone leaders. She´s going to the Colombia Bogota North Mission. Even though I didn´t know any of them from Adam, it was an awesome experience, with a great family (not in my area, but still)…call openings are just so exciting. Ariel, you´ll have to recreate it for me somehow via email, or you can just wait until I call for Mother´s Day…ahem. 🙂
- Another thing I almost forgot…paintballing. Oh, my. So I got into the arena (very small) and hid behind an inflatable thing, and ended up shooting nearly half my paintballs into the net above me, one-handed, freaking out the whole time. I passively refrained from entering the arena to use the other paintballs I bought (I gave them to an hermana). Yeah. Paintball is not for me. But at least I tried. Sort of. 🙂
OK, I´m sure I´m forgetting things, but for now, I´d probably better skedaddle. Oh, and Mom, as I told you, my package hasn´t arrived yet (I was mistaken), but it should be here soon. So, to close, a few pictures…none from Ilo yet, but I´ll work on it. First, you all finally get to see The Mansion, that far-out part of Augusto Freyre that I mentioned sometimes (I have a few more pics if you want to see more). The second, my companion and I with the entire Relief Society. (All the hermanas were sad. I guess I was popular? Or I had just been there for 7 months… :)) The third is of our zone after paintball. (Take note of Elder Mackay´s pose. And of the hermanas. Gosh, we had a great zone… :)) And the last with Felix and his family and Elder Wells and Elder Pezo (the elders in the area next to us in Hunter) that came for his baptismal interview. And I have tons more…but let´s not have you all be bored yet. And I don´t have the time, haha. If you want more, please do ask. I love you all so much, and I hope you´re doing great, and be sure to write me and I´ll write you back. As always…in my prayers are you all, said Elder Randall in Yoda-ish form. 🙂