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This was written on Feb 17thImage
 
Hola, familia y todos…

So I left myself with a bit more time this week. Now, in a bit of a departure from my usual opening, we start with a dramatic story-type thing:
 
(Just kidding, it won´t be that dramatic. I was going to put it in italics, but I changed my mind.) So 18 months or so ago, when I first arrived here in Peru, I remember having a conversation with Elder Flores about cell phones, and he said there had been rumors that district leaders would get them…for about the past 2 years. Since then, rumors have constantly flown, but nothing has come of them. Until now. This week when the assistants and President came (more on that below), they confirmed something I´d been hearing recently…that cell phones were to arrive very, very soon. And this Saturday, right after our stake baptism (more on that below too) and right before the stake activity (more on…oh, you know the drill), guess what the zone leaders handed out to everyone?
 
That´s right. The Misión Perú Arequipa is now cell phone-ified.
 
Each companionship, in addition to the home phones we already had, and the cell phones the zone leaders, office elders, and assistants already had, has a cell phone to use. So first off, it´s much, much more convenient…they´re equipped with RPM (Red Privado Movistar), which basically means we can call any other phone with that plan for free, unlimitedly. Since here phones of pretty much any kind are prepaid (we have to deal with credit, which was a huge, huge pain every time I had to call for numbers on Sundays, and our credit ran out, or we had to call investigators or members and we couldn´t), this is a major blessing, at least where our fellow missionaries are concerned. Now we can just call each other whenever we need to…no need to either be in our room or carry around a bulky home phone. And…good heck, it´s so weird having a cell phone again after a year and a half after not having one. I keep taking it out just to look at it, haha. They´re pretty basic Nokia ones, but nice. Very functional. Like we need a fancy one when we´re missionaries, anyway.
 
So if you have any more questions about that exciting piece of news (I doubt you do because I just spent 3 very overly excited paragraphs explaining it), let me know. I promise I´m not going too crazy here. I didn´t even say anything about it when I called for numbers last night using our CELL PHONES (OK, so I totally commented about it to each area I was calling…). Yeah, we´re all like kids at Christmas. Anyways…there were other cool things that happened this week. We shall now speak of them. 🙂
 
  • We went to the beach again on Monday. I don´t have any new pictures because when I took my camera out of my pocket…it wasn´t there! OK, kidding, kidding, kidding. No, the lens was having issues, so I took it to get fixed (another elder in the zone recommended a place he knew), and it´s all good now. Anyways, it was a nice little time in the beach once again, this time with just our zone. We did races, a few elders dug a hole until they found water, we made a brief but awkward attempt at beach volleyball, etc. You know, normal Ilo things. 🙂
  • So I didn´t make a note of the things I wanted to talk about, so I hope I cover everything. (Also so this email isn´t only me raving over our new cell phones… :)) What else…we had interviews this week with Presidente Zobrist. They were quite a nice experience. So now we have 4 assistants to the president…and guess who got called back to the office? Elder Valerio, who enjoyed 4 weeks as zone leader, then somewhat inexplicably was reinstated as assistant. He and Elder Armijo are apparently designated as the traveling assistants (there´s 2 more that are assigned more to the office, in Arequipa), and thus they were the ones to visit for interviews. It was so surreal, but awesome, having two of my MTC companions, now as assistants, and I, reunited. Again. We took pictures (I had my camera with me, but it was in need of fixing at the time), and I´ll have to bother Elder Valerio and/or Elder Armijo to send it (they promised, but I think they forgot), since the second one in particular was absolutely priceless. 🙂 And dang it, they´re both ending next transfer, for school reasons. We better be getting together after all this…anyways, so I got to talk with them quite a bit, and also, my interview with Presidente was very good. He asked if my companion´s ready to train (I told him Elder Hidalgo is quite solid, was trained exceptionally well, and he could do a great job), we had a brief talk about not being “trunky” (his thoughts on the matter: “There´s no time for being ´trunky`!”), though it didn´t help when he looked up my past areas on his laptop and we reviewed them one by one…oh, and from that, I found out that Elder Murdock is now going to be the mission financial secretary. First he gives me a grandson, now he´s in the office…don´t tell my other two sons, but he´s probably my star offspring here. It´s only a matter of time before he becomes zone leader or assistant or something of the sort. Haha, this is pretty much all him…I just kind of guided him along. I feel sometimes like he trained me more than I trained him. 🙂 So yeah, that was kind of a pleasant surprise, and also I finally made a suggestion I´d been wanting to make to Presidente…that since he knows Gladys Knight (he worked with her and her choir for years), he should bring her down here for a fireside or something like that. He said he had mentioned the idea to her before, and he´d talk to her about it again…and if not, that he´d let me know when one of her next firesides was in the U.S. And he´d hook me up with backstage passes…OK, that last part, no, but the rest, yes. 🙂
  • So more about the other things I said I was going to tell you more about…we had a “tarde blanca,” a stake/zone-wide baptismal service, on Saturday. It wasn´t as big as we had planned it to be…only 4 people got baptized. But…4 people! They were all very happy, all of us as missionaries were very happy, etc. I was going to baptize one of the hermanas´ investigators that I had interviewed, but she didn´t end up showing up. Sad day. But it was still a great service. There was a special number by a father and daughter (coincidentally, the same girl we went to the call opening for when I first got here), a guitar-voice duet of “How Great Shall Be Your Joy” (that song by either Michael McLean or Janice Kapp Perry, I can´t remember which, that we used to listen to on a tape every Sunday) in Spanish, and it was very lovely. The second special number was by three elders (two gringos and that awesome elder from El Salvador I told you about) singing “Savior, Redeemer of My Soul” from 17 Miracles, which I still haven´t seen, dang it. Anyways, we had the original arrangement (long story, I explained it to Mom), I played piano, there was a part that was kind of hard to play but it turned out fine, an elder from Chile in our zone rocked it on the violin, and it was quite nice. I would send you all the video, but it´s kind of 400 MB or so over the limit of files you can send, so never mind. Talk to me in 3 months. 🙂
  • I am, however, attaching a photo of almost all our zone (2 elders are missing, they were somewhere else talking to someone) with a girl that looks almost exactly like an investigator in “The District 2” videos named Alydia. If you don´t know what I´m talking about, talk to a recently returned missionary, or Ariel, you might have heard of them, they´re great videos. I think you can find them for watching online on LDS.org. I highly recommend them, though also I´ll probably buy them to bring home and watch with you guys. Anyways…yeah. That´s why there´s a random member with us in the picture.
  • Dang it, I´m getting short on time…what else…so yesterday I played piano in sacrament meeting, because the boy that usually plays wasn´t there. The new piano still greatly excites me.
  • Oh! We´ve started weekly music and English classes with the 4 elders in the ward that also goes to our chapel. They´ve gone well so far.
  • We were going to visit an investigator on Thursday, and a less-active member came up to us, told us about himself and that he hadn´t been to Church in quite a while, and if we could visit him and his family (they´re all members) and help them out with that. It was a pretty cool experience. We have an appointment with them tomorrow, and we´ll see how it goes.
  • So Friday, due to interviews, we had district meeting instead of on Tuesday. I made a fuss about Arizona´s 102nd birthday, because I can (I drew an Arizona with a smiley face on the board and ¡102!), and also since it was Valentine´s Day, I decided to teach about charity and love. As part of it, I had everyone stand up, and each member of the district said what they loved about that person. (I stole this idea from my awesome last district leader, Elder Wells.) Everyone was embarrassed. But it was really cool…everyone also had very nice things to say.
  • Also, we are learning Quechua each week in district meeting…an hermana in the district is from Ayacucho, a part of Peru where they speak Quechua. Everyone is more excited to learn it than they are to learn English, haha.
  • Oh, stake activity. So each month, on Saturdays we go to visit less-active members in a different ward/branch in the stake. Not too many members come, but enough. All of us missionaries are there to help, and it´s always a nice experience. Last month was our branch, this month is the ward that goes to our chapel, and next month, we don´t know yet which ward it will be.

I´m probably forgetting something, but I got quite a lot out, so this should do for now. I love you all so much, as always, and I hope that things are going wonderfully for each and every one of you. Never fear to send me an email…I´ll always do my absolute best to respond.

With ALL my love,
Elder Randall
 
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Pillow Talk… And Other Things

Hola, familia y todos…

So I also have a bit more time this week. But I always find ways to fill it and then some, so I should probably get cooking. I have quite a few things to tell you all about…and to your probable delight, none of them involve cell phones, in case you were all tired out by my cell phone raving last week. 🙂
  • 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. 🙂

Con todo mi amor,
Elder RandallImageImageImageImageImage
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Beyond The Sea

January 14th 2014ImageImageImageImage

 

Hi, familia y todos…

So, I don´t have terribly much time this week, since I´m writing late because I wasn´t able to write yesterday. And I have a lot to tell you. One of the things I have to cover…oh, a little thing called transfers. (That´s why I wasn´t able to write yesterday.) Things are quite different now. But I´m excited. I´m still getting used to everything, but I´m good. So, about that whole transfer thing, as well as a bit about my last week in my beloved Augusto Freyre, posthaste, in bullet form as always…
  • 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. 🙂

Love,
Elder Randall
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Something In The Water…

Hola, familia y todos…

I´ve been quite a busy bee in my email writing time today, so I´ll have to hurry this puppy up. But I don´t think I have too much crazy to tell you all about. It´s been a good week overall. A few random occurrences…let´s get to covering them…
  • So my title refers to a bit of an incident that happened earlier this week…so we have water bottles with filters that we got in the MTC, and up until now, I´ve used it from time to time on my mission, with water from the tap, and they´ve worked fine and filtered well and I haven´t gotten sick. This was in Tacna and Arequipa. Apparently…Ilo water is a bit different. And thus, even with my water filter, I got hit with a stomach bug on Wednesday. Our pensionista took good care of me, gave me very light things to eat, I got lots of rest, and I was able to recover pretty quickly, thank goodness. All better now. And now I know not to drink tap water here, not even with a filter.
  • A more amusing incident…so were on the bus on our way to zone meeting, and I was holding on to the handrail, with a bunch of people…it was all crowded. Where I was holding onto, the handrail had a loose screw, and all of a sudden, it came out, creating a bit of a fuss on the bus. (I´m a poet, and I kind of know it. :)) The money-taking lady yelled at me and told me to use the other handrail, although it was crazy crowded and I had to maneuver all weird to hold onto it. Oh, buses in Peru. So delightful. 🙂
  • It´s been going well in our new area. It´s different, and I want to kind of wake up the members a lot more…coming from an absolutely amazing, strong ward in Arequipa to a smaller branch here, I know things can´t be exactly the same, but I feel the branch can do much more…it has tons of potential, and right now, it´s one of the bigger branches I´ve seen already. so it has the resources. The thing is that most of the active members and leaders live in the other part of the branch (as I mentioned, there are 4 missionaries here in the branch, so it´s split into two proselyting areas). We´ll see how it goes.
  • Still haven´t gotten my package, but the zone leaders are heading to Arequipa right now for their leadership council, and it´s possible they might get it there. I forgot to ask them to check on it while they were there, but they should inform them about it if it´s gotten here and everything.
  • I gave a talk in sacrament meeting…they told me on Saturday night, sigh, but it went very well. I talked about “hastening the work of salvation” (something the Church has put a lot of emphasis on lately). It was something different for me and my talks in that I didn´t write it all out…I used notes instead (though I had a few parts written out to help me say what I wanted to say). It worked out well, so I might try doing that more in the future. I´m ‘graduating’! 🙂
  • I found out which ward the Santiago family (the family I knew in Tacna, my first/third pensionista there) is in. It´s unfortunately in another district of our zone, so I won´t be going there for divisions or anything, but I told the elders that serve there to say hi to them from me, and pretty soon I´m sure we´ll see each other in stake activities and whatnot. It´s so cool that we ended up in the same stake!
  • Something I almost forgot…so I´m district leader again. A small surprise, because they didn´t tell me when they called me for transfers (they usually do…for some reason it reminds me of the video of the life of President Monson, where the lady is called as Primary president of Canada´s first stake, and they hadn´t told her about the calling beforehand…the stake president simply informed her, “I knew you´d say yes.” :)), but it´s going well so far. It´s created yet another pattern in my mission…my third time being district leader, and I´m always district leader, then not, then yes, then not. I´ve trained three times…been district leader three times…go back and forth between ward, branch, ward, branch…it´s interesting the things you notice. Well, the things I notice, because I´m a nerd like that. 🙂
  • Amusing side note really quick before I close…so somehow in a conversation with our pensionista and her daughter, we got on the subject of Teletubbies. I mentioned how in English, when they say, “Po!,” it´s all clipped and with a weird British accent, and I always thought that was funny. Well, they all thought it was VERY funny how I said it. It´s since become a kind of inside joke. 🙂

I think that´s pretty much everything I wanted to cover. Not terribly eventful of an email, but you know. So, attached, a picture of my new companion and I, taken improvisationally this morning as we left for Internet. He actually smiles much more than this. I love you all so much, good to hear you´re all doing well, and always make sure to write me, as I always tell you…I love to hear from you all. For now…

Love,
Elder RandallImage
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Lasagna Experiments And Much More…

Elder Randall Wrote This On Dec. 16th

 

Hola, familia y todos…

So you might, just might, notice something different about this email. Well, not right now, because this is the intro, and you haven´t seen the whole email yet. But as you go on, you may notice that…it´s more detailed. It´s longer. It´s cooler. It´s in Technicolor. OK, that last one, nope. But yeah…as I´ve told a few of you in personal emails I´ve just sent, I now have 2 hours to write everyone. We are also now permitted to write converts and members from past areas, though with permission of President for those of the opposite gender. I´m excited, though I currently only have the email of 1 person from my last 2 areas. But that´s OK. Little by little I´m working on getting their emails and writing more of them. 🙂 Anyways, even with more time, I still have a bit I´d like to talk about, and a few more emails to write after this, so I should get right to it:
  • Surprise…we had a baptism this week! I´ll have to tell you a bit about her now that I have the time. Her name is Alejandra, and she´s the mom of a member, one of the ward secretaries, who is married to the daughter of the first counselor in the stake presidency. (Random fact: He´s 31. She´s 18. And expecting their first child. And received her Young Women´s Medallion, apparently, after she was married. Mom, you and Geo are not alone in the age difference thing. :)) So a few months ago, when Elder Murdock was finishing up his time here, they told us that his mom, who at the time went to an evangelical church with her sister, was beginning to be interested in the Church, and she went to the adult session of stake conference with them (we went too, and didn´t even see her…weird), but she couldn´t go to Church, because on Sundays in the morning she went to the market. (“This little piggy goes to market…” Sorry. I make weird references when I can.) We started teaching her finally when Elder Quilcat had arrived, and she was wary at first, but soon started asking us tons of questions, was very receptive, and a few weeks afterwards, they told us that she was getting more excited about the Church, and had already stopped going to the other church with her sister, and also had decided to stop going to the market on Sundays, so she could go to our church. She went twice, and also went to the Thanksgiving Night activity, and kept progressing, was reading and praying and then a few weeks ago, we had a lesson with her (I was there in my area on exchanges with another elder, who has since been transferred), and we gave her a baptismal date, and she accepted. We taught the Restoration that night, and she told us she believed in all of it…that the Book of Mormon was true, in Joseph Smith, the First Vision, everything. So this past Wednesday, we were a bit concerned because we hadn´t been able to talk to her for about a week, and she wasn´t able to go to Church last Sunday, and we didn´t know exactly how she was feeling about her baptism, and if she wanted to get baptized that Saturday or not. Our district leader was on exchanges with Elder Quilcat, and they went to visit her. They taught about faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end (the Gospel of Jesus Christ, lesson 3 for those of you recent RMs/people who are reading “Preach My Gospel” out there… :)), and then asked her how she felt about her baptism. Her son, her daughter-in-law, and the ward Relief Society president (all there) were apparently saying, “It all depends on how you feel. You can get baptized whatever day you want.” She then apparently said, all of a sudden, “Saturday, at what time?” And everyone freaked out, her son asked her if she was sure, she said yes, and “Why should I wait?” and that she was ready and wanted to do it. So it would have been awesome to have been in this lesson, because holy cow, it sounds so amazing how it all happened, but that it happened in general is awesome enough for me. 🙂 It´s been wonderful seeing the change in her, the growth in her testimony, everything. Her baptismal service Saturday was terrific. The stake presidency counselor and his wife were there, Alejandra´s son bore his testimony, all of them had been waiting for this moment…the Spirit was so darn strong. But then…Sunday…yeah. A bit of a snag. She didn´t come to Church, neither did her son or daughter-in-law, and was not able to be confirmed. She apparently had something come up and had to help her brother with something…something like that. It was a big disappointment, but she´s committed to coming this upcoming Sunday, and we´ll make sure she does.
  • Wow, that was a long bullet. Still have a good bit of time, but I still need to be quicker. (“Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.” Sorry, that´s a horrible quote to make as a missionary…Dad, name that movie. I´m sure you´ll recognize it immediately. :)) Anyways, so I already told you, Mom, but anyways, we tried making lasagna this Sunday with an hermana from the ward. Since the lasagna alone wasn´t going to fill us up, she made spaghetti first…but experimented with Chinese-style noodles…and they tasted weird. The hermana, me, and a bit my companion, got a bit of upset stomach. And then the lasagna…we only had one type of cheese, the noodles they had bought were pre-cooked, but we didn´t notice on the box that it said to soak them in water…and use lots of sauce. Thus, the top and bottom layers were not very well-cooked. 🙂 So yeah, the lasagna didn´t turn out the greatest, but after they gave me some Alka-Seltzer (well, here it´s a brand called Andrews salt…”sal de Andrews”), and I recovered my stomach, I ate a bunch of the leftover lasagna, though not much of the meat because it would have bugged my stomach at the moment. And now everyone´s scared to try another one of my recipes…well, mostly my companion. But that was a fun experience. 🙂
  • My companion and I are doing much better now….after we had a bit of a shouting match yesterday. There were some things I hadn´t communicated with him well…or at all…and him too, and now we´ve worked a bunch of things out. We´ve agreed to communicate much, much more, and share things more openly. It´s going well so far. I had been feeling a bit down again, but once we got everything out, I feel much better, and much more excited to make this week, and the weeks afterwards, count.
  • So a few funny quotes/experiences, courtesy of my companion: So yesterday, he was looking up “perdon” (forgiveness) in the Guide to the Scriptures (that´s what we have in Spanish instead of the Topical Guide and Bible Dictionary), but instead looked up “pendon” (banner/ensign), in the Elders´ Quorum class, and when it was his turn to share it, he went, “This is such a weird definition…” and started reading about a flag, instead of forgiveness…about 2 seconds into him reading, I went, “That´s ´pendon´…” 🙂 Yesterday while calling our district leader and explaining that today, we were going to get our hair cut and he was going to get his face cleaned as well, and thus we would be late for meeting up with the zone, he explained very generally, “We´re going to get our hair cut and they´re going to do things with my face.” I don´t know why, but I burst into hysterical laughter. Maybe it´s a “you had to be there” thing. 🙂 And then finally, when we went to that second family on my birthday (the one with the medium amount of my cake on my face), one of their daughters (they have 5, and 2 sons), he was commenting that her nose was a bit bigger than it should be, and that they could operate on it (in a helpful way, not a making-fun-of-her way), and then he blurted out, “It´s that that nose isn´t normal!” (For the Spanish speakers in the audience, since I think it´s funnier in Spanish: “Es que esta nariz no es normal…” :)) Everyone got a laugh out of that, including said daughter. Then the oldest daughter (she´s 18), everyone was sharing a birthday message for me, and she said that I meant a lot to her family, and that they would wait for me to visit them. My companion thought she said that she would wait for me, and said, “You´re going to wait for him?!?!” 🙂
  • So Presidente Zobrist came. To our chapel. It was to give a second interview to Alejandra…we thought one of the mission presidency counselors was going to come, but nope. Him. And his wife. It was so surreal to have him in our chapel, but very cool. He speaks Spanish, but Hermana Zobrist doesn´t, so she was talking with all the Relief Society sisters finishing up their Christmas crafts…in English. Our Relief Society president understands a bit of English, so she was trying to help translate, but most of the sisters just responded, “Yes.” “Oh, good.” And other simple things they could muster. Poor Hermana Zobrist. But they all loved her and President. It was a nice little experience. 🙂
  • Remember a few months ago that I was telling you all about Juan Carlos, who was going to get baptized, but skipped out on his baptism twice? When I talked to his friend last week (someone I knew from another area), we discovered that he got baptized there, after we stopped teaching him. Darn it, Ariel, could you tell that to Elder Murdock? I forgot to put that in my note to him. Anyways, he was baptized there, went like 2 weeks to Church, and then disappeared. But then we saw him Friday night, at a payphone, and he kind of ignored us. Bummer. And crazy that he got baptized, after we had him pretty dang close for a while there. 🙂

And so that wasn´t quite everything I had written down, but it should probably be enough for now. Garsh, I took a while with this. But there you go. The longest email I´ve sent to y´all in quite a while. Make sure to write me…I have more time now to respond to you all. In Technicolor. (OK, that´s still not available… :)) I love you all so much, and here´s some pics (of the baptism, one of my companion and I and Alejandra, and another of the ward members that came), and OH! Everyone…look for panetón. An example of the box is included in the pics I´m sending. I looked at the box of this brand and it says they export it to the U.S. It´s Peruvian-Italian. Try Lee-Lee´s. Buy it and love it and tell me about it and send me pics when you find a panetón).

I´m, as always, praying for all of you. 🙂
Love,
Elder RandallImageImageImage
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The Devil Wore A White Shirt And Tie

Elder Randall Wrote this on Dec 23rd

 

Hola, familia y todos…

So, I still have 2 hours to write. But I already took a bit of that time. But I still have a good amount of time. But…OK, the point is, I´m going to try to make this a tiny bit more concise. But still awesome. Here we go…and btw, IT´S ALMOST CHRISTMAS! I love Christmas time. 🙂 And I just received from Elder Murdock a picture of my grandson (he has permission to write me directly this week because he needed to ask me for emails of converts/etc. in our ward so he can write them)! And…I´m going to move to the bullets now. This concise thing is working out swimmingly so far, no? 🙂
  • So explaining my email title, as always…we had a ward talent show on Saturday (it was pretty fun), and with permission from our zone leaders, we participated in a sketch with the Elders´ Quorum. Two returned missionaries acted as well, missionaries (more specifically they used Elder Quilcat´s and my names… :)), and Elder Quilcat played the son of the devil, that was trying to get the investigators and people the missionaries found in the street not to listen. He did this with an insanely high baby-ish voice, costume with horns, a tail, and a cape that a hermana in the ward made, and with his own theme song that played every time he came out to mess with the missionaries. 🙂 My part was of an angel/the Spirit (I was dressed in all white), which in the last part, when the “missionaries” finally got a family to listen, I was helping them answer the crazy questions the diablito was telling the investigators to ask. At the end, the missionaries and I won, and he had a tantrum…and then realized that he had a testimony of Joseph Smith and wanted to be baptized. This makes much more sense when you see it. 🙂 Anyways, it was fun. I apparently did well, and my companion was a huge hit…the ward got a kick out of it all. 🙂 The sister missionaries took a video of the sketch…if I feel like it someday, I´ll show it to you all. Or I may burn it with fire. We´ll see. 🙂
  • Alejandra got confirmed yesterday! She looked so happy at Church, with her son there and everything. (He participated in the confirmation.) Heck yes. 🙂
  • So each week in district meeting, we have an English class…someone teaches a principle from “Preach My Gospel” or something of the sort, but in English, to help those who don´t know English learn a bit. This week, the sister missionaries taught it (Hna. Pugmire and Hna. Leavitt), and they taught us…slang. 🙂 But really clean slang like “Crikey!” and “rad” and “cool.” I also learned a new slang term…”mangin´”, which apparently means “darn it!” in Scotland. Who knew? But yes. That was fun.
  • My companion and I continued having a bit of difficulties this week…until Saturday, when we got to a bit of a point where we were just stuck, and I felt done. I decided to call the zone leaders to at least help me feel better, they came, they talked with me, they talked with Elder Quilcat, and we worked things out. Something we´re going to work on is studying as a companionship every day…we hadn´t been doing that, because my companion never showed much desire to do so, and I gave up a while ago on pushing him, and I should have pushed him more with that. So yeah. We´re doing better in that regard…but ouch, our numbers were absolutely horrible this week. We didn´t really work too well…so this week, we have quite a lot of work to do. Nowhere to go but up.
  • We had two Christmas devotionals this week. One was with Presidente Zobrist and his wife and about a third of the mission. Our zone sang and did a little representation of the Nativity. It was kind of more serious than some of the other zones, but it went quite well. One of the other zones had a HILARIOUS sketch with “mission miracles” they made up (ridiculously perfect things…like, for example, a father that wanted to be baptized, and had two twins that were only 7 years old…but had their 8th birthday the next day…those of you who haven´t been missionaries may not find the humor in this… :)). And then some of the other zones, eh. But yes, it was a cool devotional. Interestingly, Presidente and Hermana Zobrist didn´t really talk much about Christmas…Hermana Zobrist, for example, talked about family history…I once again encourage you all to discover how cool it is. Also, oh my gosh…we ate like kings. DEEP FRIED turkey, stuffing (my companion didn´t like it, but that worked out great, because he gave me his :)), an actually pretty good and normal pasta salad that wasn´t too bad, and ham, with gravy. And then for dessert, DONUTS (and there were so many extras, so we could go back for more…I got thirds :)) and panetón. I was quite honestly in heaven. And really darn tired afterwards, which I remembered was because turkey has tryptophan and naturally makes you sleepy. But it was worth it. 🙂
  • The other Christmas devotional was by the stake, and it was…interesting…the stake choir sang a few songs, and they went…alright. I tried not to mentally criticize too much. 🙂 At the very end, the stake choir director sang a solo of “O Holy Night”…but in English. Oh my. Her English actually wasn´t too bad (though the family we sat with had no idea it was English she was singing…I only recognized it because I knew the words…). She shouted a few parts, but at the end of the day, she did her best. 🙂

That just might have been about everything I wished to talk about. More or less. I´m sure I forgot things. So, the pics…the first one is a finally-realized photo of mine…so remember that awesome Santa tie you sent me, Mom? I can´t wear it normally, but I told you in…oh wait, it´s the letter I still haven´t sent…anyways, that I was going to take a pic of me wearing it in our room. I have done so. Hope you all enjoy it. 🙂 The second is of almost all our zone (the hermanas were finally able to escape from working in the mission office, because we had a rehearsal for our Christmas devotional number, and afterwards they were able to go with us go-karting). Oh, btw, we went go-karting again…and OH MY GOODNESS, an hermana from another zone…we foudn ourselves with two different zones there….that was in ours, Hermana Zapata, was on the track with me on one of our runs, and every time I tried to pass her, she absolutely freaked out, started zig-zagging like crazy, and nearly ran me off the track. She ended up nearly crashing into the parking lane at the end. I really, really hope she does not have a driver´s license, or the people of her city in Peru will be in great danger. Harsh, but true. I was very traumatized. 🙂 Anyways, the third picture is from go-karting as well. I went a bit faster this time, when I was not hounded by a scary hermana driver. The last two pics are from the mission Christmas devotional…Hna. Leavitt with her creepy baby (she played Mary), and finally, a picture of the entire zone, with no one missing. Oh, and Mom! My grandson (the missionary Elder Murdock´s training, to translate here…) is from Ecuador. But from Quito. But close enough. 🙂 And for now…I think that´s everything…I´ll be calling on Wednesday, btw, through Skype. Hopefully it works out fine. 5 PM Peru time (3 PM your time). I love you all so much, and hope you have a very Merry Christmas. Remember just why we celebrate it…it´s such a special time of the year, but we don´t have to wait all year to remember our Savior, nor do we have to let it end when Christmas ends. A little counsel for you all there. My love, and my prayers, always…and remember to write me when you can…

Love,
Elder Randall

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Giving Thanks

IMG_0166

Brandon Randall

To MeCarole RandallNathan Randall and 18 More…

Dec 2 at 10:09 AM

Hola, familia y todos…

Aargh, I´m starting this, and my time just ran out. This will be interesting. I better even skip the bullets this week, and just spit out things that have happened. Well, first off, I didn´t get changed. I´m quite happy about this. I love this area, and 6 weeks more here will be wonderful…and getting to pass my birthday and Christmas here, in Arequipa, in the area I´ve been in for a while, will be very nice. 🙂 Thanks for the birthday greetings, everyone…I can´t believe I´ll be 22. So I´m no longer district leader…I´m not sure if I like it, and I don´t know the new district leader yet (he´s a gringo named Elder Wells, and is currently on his way here from Tacna), but we´ll see how it goes. I´ve gotten so used to taking care of my district, doing calls, teaching district classes…it will be less stress not being leader for now, but I´m surprised how much I´ve grown to enjoy serving in that capacity. Our “Noche de Acción de Gracias” went very, very well. A bunch of people came, we had lots of great food (all the families that said they would bring plates brought them), and I sang “Come, Thou Fount” in Spanish, and it went over quite nicely, from the comments I received. 🙂 I´m sending a picture of us with a less-active member we reactivated…they´re called “rescatados” (rescued) when we teach the 5 missionary lessons, they go to Church at least twice, and have an interview with the bishop. His name is Harry (Potter…haha, no, but close), and he´s great…it´s nice to see him back at Church and excited. He´s planning to go to the temple even, in January, with a few wards from the stake. My companion and I were sick this week…I didn´t get hit that bad, I just have a bit of a cold, but my companion was with a lot of body aches and fever and throwing up. He´s doing much better now. And…I think that´s almost it. Sorry I didn´t have time for sending insights from Elder and Sister Nelson and co., but that will have to wait. 🙂 I love you all so much. Thanks for everything you do!
Love,
Elder Randall
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Born To Fly

Nov 25 at 10:11 AM
Hola, familia y todos…

So remember last week when I had so much time to write my email, and it turned out wonderfully and long and detailed and with pictures, even? Well, this week will be the opposite. I have like 3 or 4 minutes. And so many cool things to tell you about. It´s been a great week. Quick, some short bullets…
  • So that special visit I hinted about? Elder Russell M. Nelson, with his wife, along with Elder Rasband from the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Juan A. Uceda of the Seventy (the South America Northwest Area president), his wife, and Elder Taylor Godoy, an Area Seventy, came to talk to us. We got to shake ALL their hands. I was in the front row. Their talks were amazing…darn it, I´ll have to share insights next week if I can. Elder and Sister Nelson´s talks in particular were spectacular. And we got to see ALL the mission. I talked to Elder Murdock, he´s doing well, I FINALLY got to reunite with Elder Serrano (I gave him a note…and in something that made me smile, he told me, “You are big now,” and that it looks like I´ve changed a lot for the better), and many, many more (Elder Armijo, etc.). It was an incredible experience. Don´t let me forget to tell you all more about it. On Sunday, we also had a very excellent satellite training by the Area Presidency on working better with ward councils. Lots of great counsel from General Authorities this week…we´re quite blessed. 🙂
  • My companion is getting better. In an amazing breakthrough this week, HE´S CONTACTING! After listening to Elder Nelson and todos on Friday, he got more excited to contact, and now we´re talking to people…in the street, etc….together. It makes me so happy. Things are looking up.
  • We have a lot of great people we´re working with. 5 of them came to Sacrament meeting this week! And 2 more came afterwards. We´re going to work on helping them progress some more this week.
  • We have an amazing activity planned for this week…Thanksgiving Night. Yes. It looks very promising. This is how I will be spending my Thanksgiving…introducing it to a bunch of Peruvians. More on how it goes next week. 🙂
  • The Bishop played a joke on me…when he announced the opening hymn this week, he said, “And no piano.” Then he motioned for me to come up and play. 🙂
  • My dog bite´s doing much better. Still healing.
  • It is the last week of transfers. We will speak no more of this. I should be fine.

And I´m over time. The email title is borrowed from something Sister Nelson said in her talk…she talked about how we´re on our journey to become gods. And once again, sorry for not being able to share more from their talks…so little to share with you all, but so much time…oh wait, scratch that, reverse it. 🙂 I love you all, and as always, can´t wait to hear from each and every one of you. Never be afraid to send an email or letter. 🙂

Love,
Elder Randall
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Who Let The Dogs Out?

IMG_0152IMG_0142IMG_0124Hola, familia y todos…

I´m going to try something new and actually write this first. More or less. Yeah, I did some other things first actually. And I´m doing other things as I write this. Anyways, this email has a title I wanted to use a while ago. If you have a good memory, you´ll remember why I had occasion to use it…and can guess why I´m using it now. The bullets will tell all:
  • So I got bit by a dog on Tuesday. (“Your car is parked on a dog.” “My car…is parked…on a dog?!?” “Yes, ma´am. On the tail area, to be more specific.” :)) We were walking back a normal-looking back street after doing a baptismal interview for the hermanas in our district, and we arrived at the corner right next to the chapel. It was well-lighted and everything. And then suddenly, a pack of angry dogs comes up and start getting up in my grill. (I don´t know if that´s a very missionary-y phrase, but it fits well. “Can I say that to a woman, jerking your chain?” :)) One of them was particularly angry, I think my companion was trying to do something, I was trying to do something, but in all the confusion, I probably freaked out a bit and the dogs sensed that, I don´t know, and one of them tried to bite me, then bit me on my upper left leg. Miraculously, it didn´t make even a mark in my pants nor in my…underclothing. (Trying to think of a classy way to say that. :)) We went into the chapel, luckily, the wife of our ward mission leader, who is a trained nurse, was there (she couldn´t look at the bite because it was…well, pretty high up on my leg…but she told me to wash it and put some antiseptic on it, which I did). It´s healed a bit, but wow, that dog must have hit me hard, because it´s pretty darn bruised around the bite. Such an angry creature. But I´m fine. It doesn´t hurt as much, it´s all good…don´t worry about me. 🙂 (Sadly, this incident brought an end to my perfect dog bite-free record in Augusto Freyre.)
  • We did end up going go-karting on Monday. It was pretty fun. I started off really slow…my first run, in addition to being pretty darn cautious when I drive (I´m so not used to it now…), I didn´t realize until about 3/4 of the way through the first run that I was accidentally pressing on the brake as well as the accelerator. I fixed this, and afterwards I was still a bit slow, but faster, and it was more fun. 🙂 We got to about 6 runs or so, and the track wasn´t too bad. A missionary in our zone crashed into the tires on the sides (he was perfectly fine…it was pretty funny), and someone who must have been a taxi or bus driver (they drive crazy here), not a missionary, was showing off and driving crazy fast and making a lot of close turns. (This is when we were watching a group go out on the track.) Also, my companion´s go-kart got a flat tire (seeing as he´s a bit larger fellow, the friendly jokes from the zone just wrote themselves… :)), and then afterwards he went extremely, extremely slow on the track. 🙂 It was definitely a very unique P-day activity, and we all really enjoyed it. Also, before we went out, I BEAT SOMEONE IN AIR HOCKEY! I felt very accomplished. 🙂
  • We had a power outage yesterday. It lasted surprisingly long (from like 6 to midnight, or at least that´s when they told us it ended, we were asleep…), and was pretty much all of our zone. It started when we were in the chapel doing a ward missionary training (it went very well…it was great), and then we went to an appointment we had with one of the ward missionaries, but it was crazy dark, but we were OK, and I was also able to get my backpack fixed. So yeah, that…my backpack zipper has been broken for a bit, and I wasn´t able to get it fixed, and it´s been taking forever to close my backpack, and yesterday it didn´t want to close. A ward missionary (coincidentally, the sister of the ward missionary that went with us to the appointment) noticed this, and offered to fix it. That she did while we were at the appointment…it was kind of a miracle, I think. My backpack´s like new (well, as new as an 18-month-old backpack can look… :)), and it´s awesome. I´m very thankful for tender mercies like that. Also, in the evening, when it was all dark, we listened to music for a bit before we went to sleep (we´re allowed to now, as I told you before), and it was a nice, quiet, reflective moment for me. I also sang along a lot with the MoTab Christmas songs we were listening to.
  • We gave talks this Sunday (we give them every 3rd Sunday), and for Elder Quilcat, it was his first talk. Ever. He got baptized 3 years ago or so, but he had never given a talk, because he was inactive for a bit of that time. He did pretty darn well. I was proud of him. 🙂 As for me, I ended up changing my subject the night before…I was going to talk about prayer, but I felt like I should talk about something else instead…the Sabbath Day. The talk I was writing about prayer was good, but was getting very, very long-winded. I was able to write a new talk, and it went very well…I felt much better the way it turned out. Thank goodness for small spiritual promptings like that.
  • We helped the Primary kids this week…well, first in their practices for the Primary program next month, because I can play piano and all that. That was fun. Then on Saturday, we brought a 9-year-old investigator (the daughter of the cool hermana I mentioned last week) to a Primary activity where they were making pancakes. We ended up staying and helping out…my companion fried the pancakes. Sadly, we didn´t bring anything to make our own, so we didn´t get to eat them, but it was still a nice experience, and our investigator had lots of fun, so it´s all good. 🙂
  • I, um, kind of resisted the bishop this week. I was already up on the stand to play the piano for the closing hymn, but we were short on time and for some reason, he thought that singing it without piano would save time, so the bishopric signaled to me to not play piano. I was already there and ready, so I played anyway. They weren´t really mad afterwards…we have a really good relationship with the bishop…but yeah. Playing the piano with a hymn is not a burden. (Yeah, I probably need to repent about this. :)) Also, a question for all…what is your opinion on the following situation: Here, the people that are waiting outside the doors during the Sacrament, they don´t have someone go out to pass the Sacrament to them, because they fear that it will be an incentive for people to come later, because they have a huge issue with punctuality here. I think that´s unfair to make it a punishment…there´s lots of different reasons that people might come late…we shouldn´t keep them from getting to take part in this important ordenance. But what do you all think? I´d like some ideas.
  • The sister missionaries in our zone work in the office 3 times a week now (because one is the nurse, and the other might be the nurse in the future, when her companion leaves in March), and thus we have a bit of connections. 🙂 I was able to get a new D&C DVD with the new version of the Joseph Smith movie. It was cool. They also found some old extra DVDs in the office and gave them out at planning on Thursday, and the ones I was able to get were the Presidents of the Church DVD I think I mentioned, and one called “Labor of Love.” Have any of you seen it? It´s this really cheesy but very nice video from like….1989?…about a missionary that serves in Colorado and changes lives. Y´know, what missionaries do. 🙂 I found it funny, among other things, in the video that at that time, there were only 30,000 missionaries. Now, there´s kind of something close to 80,000. Heck yes. 🙂
  • I don´t know much yet, nor can I tell you all much, but this week, a very, very special visit should be happening. I´m getting excited. More to come next week.

Wow, I still have like 5 minutes, and I think I got pretty much out all I wanted to talk about. With detail. Cool. 🙂 Hope you enjoyed this larger email for a change. I´d still love to hear from you all. Mom and Ariel, something else to put in the package when it comes (no rush on that): My “Christmas Chains for Piano” sheet music book. It would be nice for Christmas. 🙂 I love you all so much. I´m doing well. Things are improving. The Church, as always, is quite true. 🙂

Love,
Elder Randall
P.S.: I´ve attached a few pics of go-karting, and one of my companion carrying a very small elder in our zone. 🙂
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That Night That Two-Third Of Bishopric Was My Companion

July 22, 2013

Hola, familia y todos…

So, by now, more than a year after I started writing emails to you all each week, you should all know that I like to come up with clever email titles. Sometimes they´re OK, sometimes they´re great, it all depends. But sometimes, there´s something so weird, so different, that happens, that I just have to lay it all out there. So it is with my email title this week. I will explain below, in a quick but exhaustive fashion. 🙂
  • First off, something I wrote down on Monday to make sure to tell you all. Ariel, you will take special interest in this. My companion is now an empanada convert. We have a few bakeries in our area (we did not know this for the first like month of our time here… :)), and we bought empanadas on Monday, and I fell back in love, and my companion started his empanada journey. AKA we both thought they were delicious. And now we both want to convert the nice lady in the bakery that sold us them, haha. (It would mean free or discounted empanadas… :))
  • So…now going to explain my title a bit. My companion is currently in Lima…he´s getting his foreign ID card (carnet de extranjería). Remember when I went to Lima in November? That´s what I went for. So they told us Saturday night that he was going (nothing out of the ordinary, that´s how it happened for me too). Sunday, we had our ward conference (a bit more on that in a second…it was terrific), and we found a recent convert that´s 18 to accompany me for the rest of Sunday (Elder Murdock had to leave for the airport Sunday afternoon…we sent him alone in a taxi…I´m sure he was fine though… :)), and he said he´d be back at 2:30. 2:30 came…and went. At like 3:15, we were in trouble…my companion had to be at the airport at 4, and he hadn´t come yet. So we went downstairs to the bishop (did I tell you that we live in the same house as the bishop?), and he was thankfully able to accompany us and get Elder Murdock a taxi. We did so, we waited some more at his house for the guy that was supposed to come, he still didn´t, and thus, I had to go to a young men´s/young women´s fireside with the bishop, at the stake center. It was pretty funny thinking how it must have looked when I walked in…a missionary alone, with the bishop, coming in to a youth fireside. 🙂 Afterwards, we left, after the bishop (and I, a tiny bit) helped one of the stake presidency start his car, we went to an appointment, and then to another. Accompanied by another member of the bishopric. It was so weird. Then we called another young recent convert, he came to our second appointment, and he was able to accompany me last night and this morning until Internet. Now I´ll be with the zone leaders for the rest of the day. I miss my companion so much…
  • So…ward conference. It was great. They make a bigger deal out of it here…there were nice little flower arrangements, a special number, and even refreshments after. Crazy.
  • I went on divisions with the zone leaders this week…with Elder Randall. Yes, two Randalls in one area. (It was his area, not ours.) It was awesome. 🙂 (Sadly, we didn´t confuse too many people. It would have been fun, though.)

We´ve done well this week. My time just ran out, so I´ll have to leave it with that short little thing. Sorry I didn´t write much this week, but I´m happy, I´m good, and we´re committed this week to working very hard. I love you all so much, and remember to keep me posted on all your lives. 🙂 You´re all, as always, in my prayers.

Con amor,
Elder Randall
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