Hey did you guys know that Halloween is totally boycotted down here? It’s like the saddest thing on the face of the planet. Honestly. Of course, as missionaries, we didn’t get to really celebrate but only about 5-10 percent of kids get to actually go out and trick or treat. Maybe less. That’s just my guess. And the whole time, there were mobs of people with signs and horns and posters and handouts with all of this propaganda about how it’s like ”devil worshipping” stuff and how it makes God sad when we celebrate Halloween. Total heartbreaker. Maybe it’s because South America has actual real deal witchcraft, so they’re a little sensitive about the whole holiday. Even some of the members were a little skeptical. A few asked us, ”is it ok to go trick-or-treating and dress up?” I was just like, ”PFFT are you kidding? Back in Utah we have WARD-sponsored Halloween parties. It’s ok guys, you don’t need to repent.” All of the street posts still have posters up though about how it’s evil. I totally snagged one though to keep in my journal for a recuerdo.
Well, I sure have a lot of things that I want to tell you!!
Let me start with some of my favorite stories from this week and the last:
The first is about a recent convert named Nilo. His conversion is a very interesting story. He used to be the equivalent of a President for all of Lima of all of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He personally founded a good number of the churches here. He was an active member over there for 8 years, until one trial led to another in his life and he became inactive in the J-Dubs. He was going through a really hard time in his life, and he realized that it was because he had fallen away from God, so he said a prayer and told Heavenly Father that he was willing to come back, and then he left his house, looking for some J-Dub ”missionaries”. He saw two women in skirts walking down the street with backpacks and thought, ”Hey! There they are!!!” and he ran up and tapped one of them on the shoulder, looking for help in his ‘reactivation.’ She turned around, and the first thing he saw: NAMETAG. He told us that in his head, he thought, ”Noooooooo…. Mormons!!! Dang it!” In the past, he had literally sought out to argue with the missionaries and he thought that what we taught was bologna. How do you spell that? Anyway but there he found himself face to face with a sister missionary and her companion. He had already tapped her on the back so he felt like, well, it must have been something heaven-sent, so he started talking to them anyway. And guess what? He was baptized ten days later. On top of that, he managed to read the entire Book of Mormon cover to cover before his baptism. Cool, right? And since then, he has managed to convert about 5 of his old Jehovah’s Witnesses friends. Now he’s been excommunicated from their church and they have a rule where if any one of the JWs talk to him, they’ll get excommunicated too. But he is like AMAZING because he already knows the scriptures like the back of his hand, he knows what missionary work is, he knows how to teach and preach and lead, he knows how to serve, and he is NOT afraid to share his testimony. He actually has to beg us sometimes to be able to let him come with us when we go visit people. The whole time that we’re with him, we always get to talk about really cool doctrine and stuff. We’re planning on going with him and a few other recent converts from the ward to the temple to do baptisms on the 13th of November. I really hope everything goes through and we can do it! Keep your fingers crossed. I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to know him and hear his story. People like him are true examples of courage and faith.
Hermana Choque and I are doing really well. She’s a really cool girl. By the way, I meant to tell you guys, her last name means ”Crash.” It’s pretty cool.
Also, I meant to tell you that my ward is part of the Lima district called, ”Cercado” which is basically ”Downtown.” Cool stuff.
So this week, we’ve really been focusing on working out the rules and the details on how this new center is going to work. It’s going to be the very first Mission-run family history center in the whole Northwest South America area! That’s five countries! Isn’t that cool? If everything goes well, they might try to expand the idea. So it’s really important that we work REALLY HARD this month because everyone will be out for summer break for all of December. We’re trying to get it opened by Thursday this week. It’s a bummer because it’ll probably cut down the majority of our proselyting time because we’ll have to be there the whole time when it first opens (Tuesday – Friday, 10 am – 8 30 pm; Saturday 11 am – 4 pm) until we can train a couple other companionships and get them rotating with us in there. But we have to have people there at all times. We’re opening a center so that all of the missionaries can bring their recent converts, investigators and less actives there to be trained, and we’ll have all of the tools. Also, so that all of the youth that are always there for classes can get excited about family history and also missionary work. It’s a huge plan to increase our retention and to help new members strengthen their testimony the most they can in the first year. So we’ll see how that goes! We’ll let y’all know.
I’m just about out of time, but I’d like to write about just one more person that we’ve met this week — a 16 year old youth named Juan José. He’s a member of the San Martin stake, but his mom lives in our sector and we found her by a referral that Nilo gave us. Juan José once went to the temple to do vicarious work for his grandfather, who passed away a little over a year ago. His grandfather was very Catholic and even participated in some of the big marches for El Señor de los Milagros. The night before Juan José was going to go to the temple for him, he had a dream that his grandfather came up to him, and that in his arm, he was carrying something big and white. He pulled it out and gave it to Juan José, and when he opened it up, it was white baptismal clothes. Juan José got really excited and he started to tell his grandfather all about what he was going to do the next day, and about the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and his grandfather just smiled and said, ”I know, son.” Juan José woke up crying with joy and when he left the temple that day, he had such a huge testimony about how the gospel is preached in the Spirit World, and how temples are the house of the Lord. What an inspiring story!! We filmed him telling it, and we gave it to Pia and Carlos Levano, and they said that they were going to show it at FSY (EFY) this year!! So incredible.
Well, that’s all for this week. I truly hope that you all have a wonderful 7 days. Everybody behave!! ¡Pòrtense bien! If there’s anything that I can ever do for you, lemme know.
Love you all! Have a great week!
If you don’t see any miracles yet, you gotta create them! Love, Hermana Hollberg