This has certainly been a dynamic week; I’ll tell you that one. Some of my favorite moments:
On Tuesday we had a surprise exchange! The Sisters called us at 10:30 on the night before to let us now. Exchanges are when we go on splits with the Sister Training Leaders for 24 hours. We trade companions with them. It’s like a sleepover. I went to Miraflores with Hermana Anderson while Hermana Zumba stayed here with Hermana Gomez. It was pretty surreal, having Miraflores as my sector for a day. It’s basically the richest part of all of Peru. There were so many Americans there on vacation!! In the night, we were going around, visiting names on a list of old members that the Stake President had given the missionaries to visit. One of them was for this little old lady. When we knocked on her apartment door, a young man in his late 20s or early 30s answered. His name was Carlos. He said that he was her son and that she had just stepped out to go shopping. He wasn’t a member but his mom and his little brother were (and still are). He invited us in and Hermana Anderson and I talked to him for a little while. At first he was pretty serious but as he felt more comfortable, he started to lighten up. We talked a little bit about his hobbies and he shared with us some of the stories of his life. When he started to talk about the things that he was passionate about, like cooking, his eyes really lit up. We talked about spiritual things too as we got to know him. He told us that he had been suffering from depression (had made 2 suicide attempts) and how he uses world travel as a means to keep himself out of danger. We talked to him about the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation a little bit. He said, ”Yes, my brother who I love so much has talked to me about this before. I’ve never really given it much thought or importance but now I’m really open to consider it.” H’Anderson said, ”I once heard a quote by one of the prophets who said, ‘If you want to see change in your life, you’ve got to start doing something different.’ ” This really clicked with him. He was a really great guy. Very honest and sincere about his actions and very caring and considerate of others, but it seemed like the world took advantage of him. We invited him to come to church on Sunday and he told us that on Thursday he was planning to leave on a 10-month trip through South America, but that, ”it looked like he was going to have to postpone it” to be able to go to church on Sunday! He also mentioned that one of his friends was starting a new restaurant up and that he needed a partner. He said that he thought maybe it was a sign of help from God because the circumstances were just perfect. We said, OF COURSE! :) Then he was like, ”Wow I’m so glad that I invited you in. A million missionaries have passed up here to visit my mother, but when she’s out I never let them in, I just tell them to come back later. But I’m happy because I feel so much better now. Literally right before you knocked on the door, I was going through a really hard spot again and was feeling so alone. My friends called me and said, ”Hey Carlos let’s go out! Let’s go to the club! Come on!” But I don’t want any more of that. I’m so sick of that kind of life. I want nothing to do with it. I told them ‘Look I’m busy, I have to do my laundry,’ and they said, ‘Carlos but you have a washing machine,’ and I told them, ‘I’m busy’ and hung up. Then you guys knocked on the door and I was so confused because I had told the doorman not to let any of my friends up and I was thinking, ‘Who on earth could it be?’ But then it was you missionaries and I let you in for some reason and now I just feel full of light. I don’t know how to explain it but you came exactly in the right moment.” It was one of those moments that makes every bump and bruise of the mission completely worth it. He was really cool. Just a little lost and a little lonely. He was really excited to come to church!
After that and a few more appointments, we happened to have to return to his same building again to visit a young couple on their honeymoon who were staying in the house of a member who rented/used the place like a hostel. The member had passed the reference to H’ Anderson and H’ Gomez the day before and they thought, ”Who wants to listen to the missionaries on their honeymoon vacation?” But they went anyway that Monday and it turned out that they were SUPER interested. They were from California and didn’t speak really anything of Spanish. So we visited them again that Tuesday night, at their request. They had SO MANY QUESTIONS. They were both really smart, albeit in their 20s. They way that the husband spoke was really quite elegant. We taught them the Plan of Salvation and used the little drawings that H’ Zumba and I made. We went a bit deeper than usual in the doctrine because they had just so many questions! Even questions that I had never thought about. Questions about Evil Spirits, witchcraft, the sacredness of physical bodies, about the signs of the second coming of Christ… Even though it was deep stuff, we answered their questions because we knew and felt that they could handle it. Plus when you don’t answer their questions thoroughly the investigators feel like you’re keeping secrets from them. But they just had such a sincere desire to KNOW. It was so special. It was honestly a pleasure to talk to them. They were so open and sincere. It was so weird to switch back to English mode and American social rules. I almost kissed the girl on the cheek like we Peruvians do, before I remembered that in America we just shake hands. All it all, it was like a 2 hour lesson. The husband gave the closing prayer and it was one of the most beautiful investigator-prayers that I have ever heard. One of the things he said was, ”We know absolutely now, without a doubt, with complete certainty that this is your gospel and your path.” Afterward they told us that they were happy to let us teach them even during their honeymoon because they knew that everything just fell together like that for a reason. It made me so happy!! We took down their information so that the CA missionaries could find them. When we left, H ‘Anderson and I were just so excited that our faces were red. We kept shouting to each other, ”You just don’t find people like that! Especially in the United States!!”
Those were my favorite stories for the week. That day of the exchange was seriously so great. It was exactly what I needed. The night before, I was feeling pretty lousy and grubby, but then we received that call from the sisters and it felt like the Lord was saying to me, ”Ok, come on, let’s go. This one needs a rebooster.” We got to have some really cool experiences. My testimony that Heavenly Father knows us individually and knows what we are going through has grown this week.
On Saturday, we went to visit the temple with a family of investigators. It was….. not our lucky day, unfortunately. The parents were really excited about going and last minute the adult daughter came too but she wasn’t in the best mood. It ended up making the entire trip really difficult. She ended up making a lot of less-respectful comments like, ”Well the Catholic weddings are prettier,” and, ”I’m sure they play music inside and that’s what makes it special,” and, ”It’s discrimination that they don’t let nonmembers in. Everyone has a right.” It was kind of a bummer. She was particularly irked about the part where only members enter the temple, and ended up confusing her mom about it. We tried to explain and explain but she wouldn’t really listen. When we got home, Hermana Zumba and I both kind of wanted to hit ourselves in the face. Heh. But the whole experience caused me to really meditate about why members only enter the temple. Here is what came to me this morning during personal study:
The temple is very different than the chapel. The chapel is the place where we meet every Sabbath day to share and speak of Christ and to partake of the Sacrament. Everybody on the earth is welcome and invited to come and learn of the Savior and the great Plan of Redemption that our Father has created for us. The temple is a sacred building whose purpose is not to serve as a meeting house for the Saints, but to perform the upper holy ordinances necessary for our salvation and for that of those who have passed on. It is not a chapel nor is it an exhibit for sightseeing. When we enter the temple, we enter only to perform those ordinances.
(faith and repentance)
With respect to the principle that God is a God of order, the ordinances of the Gospel build upon each other. With each step up, greater promises of responsibility and eternal blessings are made. Just as we cannot attend a university before we graduate middle school, we cannot receive the higher ordinances until we have received and remained faithful in our first ordinance, which is baptism. Likewise, a person cannot be sealed to his or her spouse before receiving their own endowment beforehand.
As I said before, the reason that we go into this sacred building is to perform these ordinances for ourselves or for members of our family who have passed away. In the cases of a marriage or when a family is being sealed, it is allowed that family members or friends who have received their endowment can enter and observe the ordinance. But because of the specific order of saving ordinances which we obey and follow, we see that baptism, confirmation and the conferring of the priesthood are necessary steps that prepare us to ender the House of the Lord.
And that’s some of what I learned this week. :) Man, I love the temple.
This week, on Wednesday, I’ll be hitting the 9-month mark!! That’s more than half-way! Also, Friday is Hermana Zumba’s 20th birthday! It’s going to be fun.
Sure love you guys! Sorry that story is super long. Take care!
¡Nos veremos pronto para hacer la conversaciòn de Skype!
Love, Hermana Hollberg
I know we’re not supposed to have pets, but I was THIS CLOSE!! Another baby bird. We were teaching at the house of this investigator when we saw a little baby bird that had fallen from its nest while trying to fly. The investigator’s dog almost ate it, but I scooped it up just in time. We knew that once it had been touched by human hands, the mother bird wouldn’t recognize it and help it anymore so we went to the nearby pet store to ask if they could take it in. They said no, so we called members, investigators, everyone, trying to find someone who would take care of it. Nobody could, so in the end, we took it in a box to our house because we had to go to an appointment and didn’t know what to do. As we got there, I opened the window and took this photo of the sweet, ugly little guy. After he rested for a moment as the wind blew a little bit in his feathers, he saw some other little birds and finally worked up the courage to fly away. :´)
A slightly funny (sorry Peru) photoshopped photo that was in a little shop outside of the temple:
Learning how to make Juanes on Sunday with a member who grew up in the Selva (Jungle). They call them Juanes and they make them out there on June 24th, which is the day when they remember John (Juan) the Baptist. They’re supposed to represent his head :) Right now it’s Semana Santa (Holy Week) and so here in Lima, Juanes are really popular too as everyone is really focusing on the life of Christ. They’re super yummy!
The painting I mentioned last week…