Hey Everyone! I know it’s been a really long time! I hope everyone is doing well! Things are going great here. I’m just finishing up the semester here at the U (!!! crazy how fast time flies by!) and enjoying the lovely Spring weather that’s rolling in here.
I just wanted to make a quick post for everyone who has been called to serve in a Peruvian mission, whether it be Lima Central or another one of the 12 total missions. Over the course of the last couple of months, I have heard from quite a few people who have been called to Limeñan missions, who have seen my blog and asked me for advice, and I thought that maybe it might be a good idea to collect some of my ideas here on the site, to make things a little more convenient for everyone!
My purpose with these bullet-points is not to scare anyone away, but really to get people excited about the new adventure that they’re going to have, and also to prepare them to have fun and laugh off some of the silly things that can often happen in the field. :) The list is really quite infinite, so if anybody ever has any questions, please feel free to let me know and I’ll try to help out in the best way that I can.
HANNAH’S ADVICE FOR THE BRAVE SOULS WHO WILL SERVE IN PERUVIAN MISSIONS!!
- Learn to love the potatoes!!!!
- Have a huge free-for-all water balloon fight as a zone whenever you can in the summer heat! it’s ridiculously fun.
- Soak in everything about the culture that you can as a missionary — the music, the DANCES (hello, the famous Marinera Norteña ??), the crazy buses, the houses, the colors, the FRUIT, the new experiences!!
- If you ever want to get a Peruvian talking, talk about food. Ask them what there favorite dish is. Ask them how they made that particular meal that they served you. Praise the Peruvian food! It works with EVERYONE, from taxi drivers you just met to members! Even if you’re just getting used to the chicha, the masamorra morada, the chicken feet in soup, the cold potatoes at every meal, just know that soon enough you’ll fall in love with it and won’t be able to live without it. Until you DO feel like that, bluff! :) It will still get you brownie points with the locals.
- Just know that it’s normal to have a hard second companion. you learn everything that you know from the first, and readjusting all of that is hard.
- Always be aware of your surroundings — keep an eye behind you.
- Don’t ever ride in a taxi with your backpack on your lap — on the floor ONLY.
- Be patient when people talk about how you’re just learning Spanish and say that it’s cute/adorable/they can’t understand you :) learn to ignore all of the people shouting “good morning! good morning!” at you in the streets.
- Have fun while you work!! Play little games with your companion. Decide that one day, you’ll knock on every blue door, or that another day, you’ll compete between who can give out the most pass along cards. Learn random words! teach your Latin companion random words in English! Ask your companion about his life, or his country, or his mission experiences, and listen. Do Zumba for your 30 minute workout (if your Pres allows it)! Make cool scripture marking plans and designs. Make a list of funny scriptures to use to respond to your district leaders or other missionaries. Here are a few to get you started: 1 Cor 13:11, D/C 59:22, Ether 15:34, 1 Timothy 4:8, 3 Nephi 12:37, 1 Nephi 15:8.
- The second way to get to any Peruvian’s heart is through family home evenings. They LOVE THEM.
- Don’t worry about what’s going on at home too much. you being in the field will benefit them way more than anything you could have done at home. those blessings are real! D&C 118:3.
- Don’t trust menus (restaurants) that only cost 5 soles or less.
- Don’t ever accept a soup “a la madre” (don’t Google it either).
- Ask what kind of meat was in the meal after you eat it.
- Don’t spread mission gossip. It will save you a LOT of trouble.
- Be careful of what you buy in the mercados (markets). I think you’ll know what I mean. Especially — PAPAYA JUICE at the juguerias. They sometimes make it out of the oldest papayas they have laying around and you can never be sure of the quality. It took me two months of being really sick to figure that out.
- Get an exercise habit going. Like really. Peruvian missions are infamous for being a little too loving. As they say, “Americans eat to live; Peruvians live to eat.”
- Guard your USB of photos with your LIFE. Even keep a back up, and update it every once in a while. Email your photos to your family whenever possible. Trust me on this—I’ve lost two USBs, more than 2000 photos and videos and had one of my 16 GB memory chips completely corrupted with viruses from those dinky locutorios (internet cafes). It was a little more than upsetting.
- Things that Americans often directly translate to Spanish that have VERY different meanings than you’d expect: don’t say, ”no me importa” (I don’t care) — it’s VERY STRONG in spanish!. don’t say “idiota, estupido”, also very strong. you probably already know this but “estoy embarazado” does NOT mean “I’m embarrassed.” don’t say that something is “basura” because that’s also really strong. “No me molestes” does not mean “don’t molest me.” If they ask you, “me invitas?” they’re not wondering if you’re going to invite them to go out, they just want some of your food. But at the same time, when you do make silly Spanish mistakes, just laugh them off! :) It’s not your native language, so you can say whatever you want and make mistakes while you’re learning! Don’t be afraid to carry a pocket dictionary around. When you hear a word you don’t recognize, ask!!! Otherwise, you won’t learn it.
- Pay a lot of attention to the accent, because when you come back to Utah (or another part of the EE.UU), you’ll be tempted to start talking like the Latins here (which is a way different accent and even set of vocabulary). You’ve gotta represent Peru!
- Take a trust fall with Spanish. Do your personal study in Spanish. Just read, read, read. If you don’t get it, just keep reading it. Soon enough, you’ll be marking more and more in your scriptures. The promise that the prophets have made about the Book of Mormon having the power to teach you a language is SO true, and it saved my life!
- Read Preach My Gospel cover to cover. I’m serious. It’s the best decision that you will ever make. It’s the only time in your life that you’ll have the opportunity to really do it.
- Peruvians will very often let you into their home saying, ”Yes, always it’s good to listen to what people have to say.” Yes, that’s very true, but that does NOT mean that they will follow up with the commitments. The true KEY to finding the people who are ready to have a change of heart are the people who strive to keep their commitments to you. You’ll have to learn to look for that, and to know when it’s time to drop an investigator (so hard!). Peruvian “eternal investigators” are very common.
- Use family history!!!!!! Teach lesson 5 before baptism. Your investigators need to know that you’re not only preparing them not just for the baptismal font but for the temple and the opportunity to have an eternal family!! :) It’s also an AMAZING tool for reactivating members. Also, if a recent convert goes to the temple to do their own family history ordinances within the first 6 months of their baptism, their long-term retention rate is 80 percent!! If they go within the first 6 weeks, that jumps up to 98%! You guys will have the Trujillo temple soon — try to encourage people to go!!
- Don’t touch the shower head unless you want to get shocked.
- Wear your flip-flops indoors at all times, especially in the shower.
- If you’re in an area with fleas, don’t sit on your bed in your proselyting clothes. just trust me on that one
- if you get bit by fleas, resist all urge to scratch yourself, and make a serious investment in hydro cortisone cream. it’ll save you.
- If you notice that the food you’re eating is moldy, or that there are hairs or bugs in it, or if you find a piece of metal in it, try to pretend like it’s no big deal at all.
- And most of all, just remember that Heavenly Father expects of you what you just what you can do at that moment. I remember that sometimes, when I had more time in the field, I would look back to how I was as a greenie and I would kick myself for being such an amateur. The truth is, Heavenly Father knows that this is all just a huge learning process when you have 2 months in the field, He understands that. He understands your capacities and He’s not going to expect something of you that you’re not capable of doing. He loves you and wants you to succeed! Don’t let yourself feel crushed under the pressure of thousands of people’s salvation, like I did. Also, use that red book “Adjusting to Missionary Life” that they give you in the MTC — it’s incredible. It seems geeky at first but it’s actually super useful.
- Your most important convert is YOU!
- Read this talk, The Fourth Missionary — it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. It changed mine. I know that it’s a million pages but it’s WORTH IT!!! :)
- Know that it’s normal to feel homesickness. We all have those moments. We all want to go home sometimes. We all can start to feel a little burned out after a long week or a long month or a long transfer. Just hold to the scriptures, hold to your patriarchal blessing, and do things that get you excited about missionary work. Get out on the streets. Try new foods. Talk to new people. Make yourself new, challenging goals!
- And also read this amazing letter called “One Mission”. It’s specifically dedicated to gringos serving in Latin america.
- Last thing — too many times in my mission, I saw missionaries just comparing Peru to the States the whole time. Comparing everything. Even the church. “Well, it’s not like this in Utah.” “In Utah, they do this differently.” “Where I’m from, we don’t do that.” Try not to do that. Especially don’t say it out loud in front of other people. Take ADVANTAGE of a great opportunity to learn from a culture that is so amazing that has so many positive qualities that we lack!! Don’t spend the time thinking about the states. Immerse yourself in la vida peruana. Talk like they do. Laugh at their jokes. Love their food. Be warm and outgoing and humble like they are. Learn to LISTEN. They have some amazing stories to share, and amazing testimonies.