It’s crazy how in one week you can have so many incredibly hard things and so many incredibly good things happen in so short of a time!
On Friday night, we had a ward missionary activity. We called it ”Canchita in the Canchita’’ (canchita here means both ‘popcorn’ and ‘basketball court’). We played the Joseph Smith Restoration movie on a big screen and let the public and the ward come and see it for free and eat some popcorn. But the ward leaders forgot to announce the activity last Sunday at church, so we were really worried that nobody was going to remember or show up. Sure enough, as 6:30 rolled around, Hermana Zumba and I found ourselves alone in the ward building. The members we had assigned to bring the ingredients to make popcorn and juice didn’t show up either. 7:00 came around, then 7:30. Still empty. My companion, who recently was diagnosed to have stomach bacteria, happened to have a pretty terrible reaction to the heavy medicine that she’s been on for the last couple of weeks. It was one of those moments where my companion was in the bathroom throwing up, and I was standing outside of the door looking out into the basketball court full of empty chairs, stressing about the well-being of my friend and considering just going home and calling it a night. It was rough stuff. But then, bit by bit, members started showing up. Then a few investigators passed through. We still didn’t have the popcorn or juice, but one of the people that we had happened to merely contact in the road that morning came with his daughter! That just does not happen. He said that his little girl was just begging for him to take her. People kept filing in until we had to bring more chairs into the court! In the end, about 40 people came. That’s really amazing, considering that our ward is about 60 people. And in the end, at around 8:30, the boy who was supposed to bring the popcorn finally arrived (by that point we had already just gone to the store and bought some). It was definitely one of those nights where you could just see the tender mercies of the Lord.
These last couple of weeks have been pretty hard like that though. My companion has been so sick for basically this entire cambio. We’ve lost the majority of our investigators. Everything’s just been rough stuff. But it’s crazy how in the same week, you can see so many miracles.
One of them that we saw this week was in the Orè family. The husband is a less-active member who got baptized at 16 but slowly faded away from the church. His wife, Maria, is an investigator. We’ve been working with her our whole time in Barranco and she’s really great. It came to a point where she said that she wants to get baptized. She’s felt the Spirit really strong and we’ve had some incredible lessons with her. But the thing is that to get baptized, you have to attend church at least two times to see what it’s all about. But she can’t come because she has to take care of her husband (who is really ill with an incurable disease), her mother (who is very old and needs constant watch) and her 2 year-old granddaughter. She just can’t leave the house. The husband has been super bitter and resentful basically towards the entire world since he contracted his disease that has made him so weak. He retired to one room in the house and hasn’t left for months. They say that it’s probably an effect of the disease. But this entire time that we’ve been visiting them, we haven’t met him. Until this week. We walked in for our appointment and we saw him sitting on the couch. At first we were really nervous because we heard that he kicked out the last Missionaries that he talked to. Maria told us that they were just about to leave, but asked if we could pray with them really quickly. So we prayed and shared one scripture each. I felt like I should share 1 Nephi 21:14-16, so I did. Zumba shared a really beautiful scripture like that too. When we finished, he said, ”Looks like you followed the Spirit, Hermanas. That was exactly what I needed to hear.” Then he started to open up and talk to us! He completely changed. He even started asking about the old ward members! He accepted to let the Elders come the following day and give him a blessing. When they went over, he talked to them for a while, received the blessing, said the closing prayer and even asked if the Elders could bring the Sacrament on Sunday! Maria told us that he’s a changed man. He’s praying again, he moved his room into a more public part of the house, and he even told his wife that he felt like going to the beach. We’re going to be working with them bit by bit and it’s going to be really exciting to see where it goes. Maria’s faith is so strong and she has prayed for her husband for so long. I think it was a miracle based on her faith and her part.
This Wednesday we went to the temple! It was amazing, as usual. We always have such spiritual experiences there. Before we actually went in, the whole zone ate lunch together there in the cafeteria. I got chanfainita because it looked pretty good and was something that I’ve never tried before. Turns out, it’s cow liver. It reeks like fish and the flavor is so strong. I really like Peruvian food and honestly there has only been one dish (out of all of the odd things that I’ve eaten) that has really crashed with me, and that was the chicken feet in the soup deal. But now, I have to say, there are two things that I can’t just do. But it was certainly an experience!
After the temple, we went to the Parque de las Aquas, which is the world’s largest ‘fountain’ park and it was SO COOL. My camera died. More photos later then. We came home absolutely exhausted.
A few nights ago, there was another ”temblor” (little earthquake), but this time it was during the night. Spooky scary. Seriously though. There’s nothing like waking up in the middle of the night to your windows clacking together and your bed shaking. It was kind of terrifying! Luckily, Hermana Zumba slept through it. It scared me to death. One day, I’m going to get used to these temblors.
We’ve started to teach English classes, the Elders and us in the Barranco ward! Every Wednesday at 7. We’re teaching the same way and curriculum basically that we learned in the MTC. So far it’s been really successful! So many people end up coming! Members, non-members, everyone. It’s pretty exciting. My companion doesn’t speak English yet but she’s a great teacher. Both of the Elders speak English, even though one is from Uruguay. We make for a great team!
Some of the funny things:
People here think that Americans are crazy. Meaning that they do extreme sports. Marcela was talking to us about how her sister lives in the US and how she bought a trampoline to jump on, but the neighbor kids jump on it and do front flips. She thought it was the craziest thing in the world. Or that kids ride their bikes with no hands, or go off of jumps. They think that we’re adrenaline junkies and absolutely bonkers! It made me laugh. I started to tell her about extreme slip ‘n’ sliding on Sugarhouse Park hill, ice blocking, or tubing behind a boat… The people here think we’re crazy!
Haha Sure love you guys! Wish I had more time to tell ALL of the stories. :) Thanks for everything!!
Love, Hermana Hollberg