Almost a month in Peru!

Hey guys!

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So sorry that my last email was a little down in the dumps… I didn´t really mean it to be that way.  Last week was a little hard but it´s ok because the challenges are what make us stronger.  This week was so much better, it flew by!!  We´ve been teaching and visiting and contacting like crazy.
Today we visited La Plaza de las Armas in downtown Lima.  (The Plaza is the core of the city, surrounded by all the important government buildings in Lima.)  It was so neat!!  We saw the Peruvian equivalent of the white house and watched the national marching band play the national song.

Municipal Palace of Lima

Municipal Palace of Lima

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The Government Palace

The Government Palace

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The Cathedral of Lima

The Cathedral of Lima

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We ate lunch at this little “Italian restaurant” and I had “gnocchi” (emphasis added on purpose) and it made me miss Caputo’s so much.  Man, I can’t even tell you how much I crave some good Caputo’s food.  Some missionaries crave peanut butter and honey but I’d kill for some House Cheddar aged in duck fat right about now.  Orange cheddar doesn´t exist here.  The closest thing I found was a single pack of Kraft Singles and it was twice as expensive as all of the other cheeses in the store but I bought it anyway for nostalgia sake.  I’ve been carefully rationing it out for the last month.  Anyway, yeah, while we were in this little restaurant this random protest formed in front of a government building next to us and within 5 minutes they got tear-gassed.  The fumes blew over into the restaurant and I have to tell you… it was a new experience.  I have serious sympathy for Gerritt now.  It was like my eyes and my nose and my throat were on FIRE!!!!

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Anyway yeah hahahahahahaha but I’m safe!  Don´t worry.  Lima is the best.

This week I caught a nasty cold.  Walking around in the winter for 6 hours certainly puts a toll on your immune system.  Plus, the cold here is really humid so when the wind blows you kind of want to die, your bones feel like they’re going to crumble it´s so cold.  Yesterday we had to take a ‘descanso’ (rest) and stay in the house for 2 hours and nap to help me get over the sickness, and I feel LOADS better now.  I felt really bad for taking away time from being out doing service but every day it was getting worse and worse and Hermana Suqui was getting worried.
This week we got a call from an old investigator — she was wondering if we could stop by the next morning.  When we went over there and talked to her, she told us that she wasn’t really interested in the church but she just needed service.  She has like 400 different illnesses/diseases right now and she’s really weak.  She’s only 39 and has two kids.  Of course we immediately helped her!!  We helped her cook and we even cleaned her bathroom (in our skirts and everything!  Super careful to not get bleach on anything).  Her house was in ROUGH shape.  She had a bit of a hoarding habit and her mind wasn’t all that strong.  As we were about to leave she mentioned that she also has lupus.  When we got to the house of our pensionista right afterwards and told her about it, she said that we had to go back to our houses, shower, change and wash our clothes, and disinfect EVERYTHING because of the lupus.  Needless to say, we were really freaked out.  I ended up calling the mission president’s wife and asked her for advice (she’s in charge of the healthcare of all of the missionaries).  After all of the trouble, she told us that lupus isn’t contagious after all.  PHEW!
Let´s see, other stories….. We taught one lady this week who told us that she had a dream that one Latina and one other young women “bien rubia” (blonde) came to her door and she was certainly spooked to see us.  She took a picture with us and put it on facebook, titled “My dreams have come true!!!”
Ok so one of the many things that is culturally different here is what’s offensive to talk about and what’s not.  One of the most funny things I’ve discovered is how it’s TOTALLY normal to talk about how much somebody weighs. All the time, people ask each other how much they weigh, poke fun at each other, etc.  My companion tells like every person she meets that she’s gained 13 kilos here in Peru (about 30 pounds).  I just asked her if it was ok to write that and she gave me this look like “why are you asking me??”  It’s totally normal to say, “Oh, we’re going to teach the gordita right now, want to come?” (gordo = fat. gordita = kind of like ‘little fattie’)  When we have little getting-to-know-you activities, we always have to stand up and say our name, where we’re from, our favorite color, and how much weíght we’ve gained on the mission.  Can you believe it??  I haven´t gained any yet but I don´t think I will.  But yeah the Latinos are so bold and passionate.  They love with all of their heart.  They think that North Americans are “cold” and “disconnected”.  Relatively speaking, maybe we are.
I’m teaching a family in ENGLISH!  Woo hoo!  It’s SUCH a relief.  We found this family the other week who knows a bit of English, and the mom wants me to tutor her daughter in English.  The daughter is 14 and has had English lessons since she was 6 so she’s pretty fluent.  So…. I’m teaching her the lessons but in English and her mom is happy :)  They´re so nice.  Teaching families is the best.
So as missionaries we are in charge of taking care of 4 groups of people evenly: investigators, less active members, active members and recent converts.  Most people think that all missionaries do is hand out cards and try to get people baptized but we actually spend an equal amount of time in the houses of all of these groups of people.  When we visit members we usually share scriptures, bear our testimonies, etc.  It´s so lovely.  We spend a lot of time coordinating with members.  The mission plan in the ward (and the help of the members) is SOOOOOOOOO important.  Every day we have a goal of a certain number of lessons or visits to have with a member present.  The members here are so great, they’re really strong.
We also spend a good amount of time every week doing service!  Most of the time, it’s for non members :)  We paint doors, clean houses, help cook, visit the elderly, all sorts of stuff.  This week we visited a woman with cancer.  It was such a testimony builder, the Spirit was so strong there.  One of the members who was there with us shared this scripture: Psalms 27:10-11.  He is leaving on his mission to Venezuela in December, his mother is Catholic and his father is an Evangelical Pastor and he doesn’t get any support from them.  There was so much power in his testimony when he bore it.  So many great examples in the world!  You know, when it comes to teaching in other languages, it doesn’t really matter if you are fluent or not because the Spirit only speaks one language, and that’s the language of the heart.
Right now we have a decent number of people who are interested in the church.  We even have a couple with baptism dates but I don’t know if all of them are going to end up getting baptized… :/  The Peruvians are so nice that they’ll without fail say yes to commitments, and they’ll let you teach them but they rarely end up following through.  Hermana Suqui and I suffer over this.  AGENCY!!!  Agh.  haha.  They’re super spiritual and they LOVE to talk about Christ, but for some reason they just won’t take the time to read the scriptures or come to church!  We can’t allow a baptism if the investigator won´t follow through on the commitments, it’s one of the rules.  It’s always so sad to be waiting and waiting and waiting in front of the church for your investigators and less-actives before Sacrament and they don’t show :(  Hermana Suqui and I are going to work harder and harder though to help them find their own testimonies!!  That’s the beauty of this church — we can share with people what we think, but it doesn’t really matter because they can find out the truth for themselves!  Study, meditation, prayer, and patience.  You’ll ALWAYS find your answer.  Our loving Heavenly Father will never cease to be there for us.
Scripture of the week — D&C 6:34-37
33 aFear not to do bgood, my sons, for whatsoever ye csow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow dgood ye shall also reap good for your ereward. 34 Therefore, fear not, little aflock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are bbuilt upon my rock, they cannot prevail. 35 Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and asin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you. 36 aLook unto me in every bthought; cdoubt not, fear not.

 37 aBehold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the bnails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall cinherit the dkingdom of heaven.

 

 
So yeah, stuff’s going great.  We’re keeping really busy.  Every day is a new experience.  My Spanish is coming along.  I have to work for it.  It takes every ounce of effort sometimes to make myself focus and not just zone out of every conversation.  When I sleep, it’s like my brain plays back the conversations of the day, over and over.  I don´t understand it and I don’t understand why but it get’s pretty tiring.  I can’t let myself get tired of the language, even when I just long to express myself.  The harder I push now, the more I will benefit later.  I can’t slack off now and bank on the fact that I’ll be fluent later.  Today is the day that I try my best.  And the next, and the next.
I can’t tell you how much it means to have all of your support.  You guys keep me in great spirits.  Every day that I get to read your emails I can’t stop grinning.  I hope you are all well.  I pray that you are all safe and healthy.
As always, I implore all of you guys to study the scriptures!!!  You have the knowledge in your hands to literally find the answers to any and every question through personal revelation.  I can´t tell you how many times in lessons the investigator has asked a question and I think “Oh, I really need a scripture about this…!”, flip open my scriptures and BAM — the first one is EXACTLY what I need.  Whew.  Such a testimony builder.  Anyway, ciao everyone!  I got things to do, people to see  :)

All my love for you guys,
Hermana Hollberg
Here are some more pictures!
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Patitos de pollo - chicken feet!

Patitos de pollo – chicken feet!

Yes, those are chicken feet in soup.  Patitos De Pollo.  Literally the worst thing of my entire life.  We had to eat them because it was at a member’s house.  I’d rather eat the cuy (rat).

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This is my 'room'

This is my ‘room’

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Birthdays!

Birthdays!

We had a birthday party for everyone in this transfer (group of 6 weeks).  The sisters took a bite of the cake (tradition) and one of the elders shoved their faces right into the frosting.  Hilarious.

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Also there is a cathedral here in Jesus Maria and EVERY TIME we pass it whoever is with me goes “SALT LAKE!! SALT LAKE!!”  I’m not sure why.

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And finally….. Dunkin Donuts!!!

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