Hola, familia y todos…
- Transfers…so they´ve happened. Elder Hidalgo, as we all expected (he had been here in Ilo 5 transfers…in other words, 7 months…that´s generally the limit we´re seeing pretty much everywhere in the mission for elders), has departed us. He was a great companion…dang it, it´s kind of lame that we were only together for a transfer, but it was a nice transfer. He was just so calm and collected and we never really had any problems, we kept improving as we went, we found some great people over these past 6 weeks, and I learned from him in various ways. And holy cow, time does really fly. The transfer went by like that (imagine me snapping here). So my new companion is…finally not a new missionary! I had suspicions that training might have been on the horizon yet again…but alas, it was not. A missionary from Uruguay, Elder Fagundes (might end with a Z, not sure), that I have seen in conferences and various things in Arequipa is coming to be my companion (he should arrive in the early afternoon), and he seems cool. It will be quite different, sure. But yes, I´ve heard good things about him. Also, some other great elders and hermanas are coming…for example, an absolutely terrific missionary I knew in Selva Alegre, Elder Gomar, will be in our branch. Given that this transfer, we´ve had a bit of strained relationship with the elders there in the other area in our branch…a missionary that just got transferred was driving us both crazy, his companion was a bit aloof, and we never really were able to work in unity with them…I´m excited that Elder Gomar is coming, and it should be a much smoother ride and we can advance much, much more here in the branch. Also coming is the hermana that I mentioned in the past that stole my piano-playing job in conferences…haha, no, but yes, the one that rocks at piano and now she will probably take over a bit with that here in zone meetings. Or we´ll try to share. (I joked that we will have “Piano Wars,” but she´d beat me because she plays better. :)) But yeah. Oh, and my companion won´t be the only Uruguayan in the zone, or even in the district. Another missionary from Uruguay is coming, and while I don´t know him personally, I know his father. (Meaning father in the mission here, haha.) I´ve heard terrific things about him as well, so yeah. And we´ll all learn much more about Uruguay, because personally I know very, very little about it. Looks like it´ll be fun, this whole transfers thing. Oh, and holy cow…out of 9 areas in our zone, 7 had transfers. Crazy. And Mom, I´m sorry to inform you that before, we had 4 Ecuadoreans in our zone, and now we are down to 1. And he´s kind of weird (he´s the one I mentioned above, the aloof-ish one). But alright, I suppose. But still, I´ll keep the Ecuadorean fire alive as much as I can. 🙂
- Oh, and Elder Hidalgo went to a really, really isolated area about 3 hours from Arequipa. He will be in snow, most likely (and like most Ecuadoreans, he doesn´t do well in cold…ouch). Their pensionista apparently just moved. There are only about 20 members in the branch there. A missionary is branch president. He was understandably less than thrilled, but we all pumped him up (there´s also cool aspects of being in that area…there´s 4 missionaries there now, instead of 2, and they apparently have a nice time working together), and he´ll do great. And crazy it´s-a-small-world connection…he goes to replace Elder Serrano, who is going home this week. Whoa.
- Speaking of Ecuadoreans, an hermana in our zone from Quito, Hna. Quiñaucho, has ended her mission, and on Thursday after planning we had a little goodbye party-type thing. (Well, as much of a party as you can have as missionaries… :)) We ate cake, and pancakes (some of the hermanas made them…someone brought peanut butter, I´d never tried them with peanut butter, and it changed my life…I am now a fan), and A COMPLETELY DELICIOUS LEMON MERINGUE PIE. Well, two. And we all obviously had just a slice. But oh my goodness…it was so, so worth it. Oh, and also we sang “God Be With You Till We Meet Again” (when we started the second verse, since we were just singing all impromptu, without hymnbooks, no one knew the words and it was pretty funny), and “Happy Birthday” because it was her companion´s birthday rather coincidentally, and some of the other hermanas had made her a large-size card that was focused on “her second mission”…getting married. Complete with various marriage-themed cutouts from Church magazines. We also went to say goodbye to her yesterday, as she left for Arequipa with another hermana that´s going to the mission home for a little bit to recover from an injury she has. Gosh, it´s crazy seeing people end. It´s not like that´s going to happen to me anytime soon or anything…yeah, let´s change the subject. 🙂
- So I switched pillows with an hermana in our zone. (This is where my title comes from. Sorry if you freaked out for a second when you saw it. I couldn´t resist the pun. :)) This sounds horrible. My pillow that we found in our room was very, very hard to sleep on…quite honestly, I would wake up sometimes and my ear would hurt…”Do I have an ear infection?!?! Oh no, it´s just my pillow.”…yeah, I did not enjoy it very much. Coincidentally, another hermana, in our district, mentioned that she needed a new pillow, because hers was too soft. (This may start to remind you of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. :)) I proposed a switch, and she said she´d fix up her pillow all nice, because it was really, really thin before, and we finally were able to exchange our pillows this week. It´s SO much better. She commented to me that yes, that pillow that I gave her is indeed very hard, but that she´s doing fine with it. And…this is so awkward talking about pillows and sister missionaries and…cut. 🙂
- Elder Hidalgo and I (awww, he´s gone now…lame) had a fun conversation this week about reggaeton. By the way, Mom and Geo and whoever else knows about reggaeton, I kind of hate it. We were talking about how it´s so direct sometimes…they just let it all out there. And then I mentioned some rap songs that do the same, and yeah. I enjoyed little talks we had like that. Anywho…
- So we´re teaching an investigator…OK, let´s explain. There is an older couple that got baptized about 2 years ago and moved to our branch recently from another ward in Ilo. They have a daughter that lives with them. She has her husband (they´re not married), her 3 kids, the youngest is baptized, the rest aren´t because…well, we´re not entirely sure exactly why, but they´re going to be baptized someday for sure (the hermana even told us, “I know I need to get baptized.”). And then her husband has a brother, about 25 (he looks like he´s way younger), who was only going to stay with them for a little while, but now has decided to stay and enroll in school here. His name is Jonathan. Of him I speak. So this week we decided to finally talk to him well about baptism, since he´s been to Church quite a lot, he´s incredibly receptive, and all that. His response was extremely positive…but interestingly enough, it was “not yet.” What was cool about the lesson was that the Spirit was very strong, and it just went so well…he understands incredibly well exactly what he needs to do to receive a testimony, to be completely sure that baptism is what he needs right now (he told us that he already knows, much like his sister-in-law, that he needs to do it), and really just be truly converted. It´s amazing teaching an investigator so ready like that. We´ve been praying for him a lot and helping him and really just being his friend. He´s going to be able to make the decision…soon. I know it. Part of me just wants to go, “Just get baptized already, dang it!” But I think for me, this is kind of a lesson on patience (at least with investigators). It needs to be the Lord´s time, as much as we want it to be our time instead. The Lord will guide him, because he´s doing what he needs to do to be guided. I hope this all makes sense. And I don´t usually talk about investigators like this, I should totally do it more. Anyways, a bit of insight on that cool part of our week.
- I had two cool experiences with doing baptismal interviews this week…one with an 8-year-old…I haven´t really interviewed anyone that young yet, and with younger kids you kind of have to adapt the questions and everything, but it went very well. And then the other was yesterday, and the investigator I interviewed is crazy ready and it was a very nice experience.
- I´m getting short on time…and I must send some great pics from this last week here. So we had our appointment with that less active family, and another lesson on Thursday while I was on divisions with a Chilean (they loved him so much that they requested that he be there tonight for a family home evening we have with them…the zone leaders gave him permission to do so), and we´re going to have to help the husband a bit more (he wasn´t at the lesson on Thursday…they say he has kind of a bad attitude with his family), but yeah, they´re terrific and I´m excited to keep working with them, now with my new companion. They´re from the circus! They showed us pictures on Thursday, and it was very cool. The Chilean missionary I was with was particularly excited.
- So I had panetón two times this week, rather deliciously…this is a gentle but firm reminder to LOOK FOR IT PLEASE. It is the Great Panetón Quest, I have decided. It´s there in the U.S. I just don´t know where. I would very much like to know its whereabouts. I sent a picture. An example of a brand that exports is Todinno. Find it, my friends and family.
And…wow. I think I got everything covered on my list. But now I´m short on time and must send pictures rapidly. The first is of a beach view I took this morning on the way to drop Elder Hidalgo off at the bus terminal, the next is of all our zone last Monday on P-day, then a picture on Sunday of all the elders that go to our chapel, one of me and Elder Castro (the elder from El Salvador I told you about…he´s now traveling to Arequipa for his transfer, sad day), one of Elder Figueroa (the Chilean I mentioned above, he´s awesome) and I, my comp y yo in the next photo, or something along those lines. And I hope these photos load a bit quicker, because my time is about to run out, haha. Anyways, if you have any questions, feel free to ask, I love as always to receive emails and letters, and I love you all un montón. (A little Spanglish there so you can start learning. :)) Here comes an exciting new transfer, and I know it will be great. As Elder Wirthlin said (and that I quote every five seconds, because it´s so darn applicable to everything): say it with me now…”Come what may and love it.” Amen to that. 🙂