To The Brave Who Will Go

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.
You’ll do great out there! I don’t know you personally, but I know that you’ve been called of God and that you have a very sacred blessing and responsibility right now. You are entitled to a world of blessings. Don’t ever doubt yourself! Don’t feel discouraged. You’ll do great!! With God on your team, nobody can prevail against you! Romanos 8:31 (Joseph Smith Translation). You have been anointed, ordained, endowed and set apart to succeed! Remember that! And remember that you’re always planting little seeds of faith with each person, and that the effects will always take place over time. Enjoy Peru and know that you’ve been called to serve in the BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!!!! :) If you ever have any questions or anything that we could do for you, let me know. GOOD LUCK!! CUIDESE!

Smitten and Flea-Bitten‏

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eating the famous turròn, which is a traditional to celebrate El Señor de los Milagros down here. Also, looking like one of the holy virgin paintings for fun :)

Ok, WHY IS EVERYONE SEEING MEET THE MORMONS?? I am so flipping jealous. We’ll get it down here in Spanish who-knows-when. Dang!

 

So everyone who serves a mission down here has to get fleas at one point, by law. Well, it’s my turn!!! YAY!!!!  Haha, well, that actually sounds a lot more serious than it is, but I do have like 10 flea bites in total. It’s basically like having a mosquito bite, but when it’s not swollen from scratching, it looks like a little freckle. Hermana Borg thinks that it’s just from the fleas outside in the world (oh goodie), and so she just had me get some calming cream, but if I keep getting bitten, that means that I’m going to have to burn like everything I have and scrub the house. Cool.

Seeing Esther for the first time too!!! She seems like she's doing REALLY WELL! Hopefully she'll get sealed to Josè here soon.

Seeing Esther for the first time too!!! She seems like she’s doing REALLY WELL! Hopefully she’ll get sealed to Josè here soon.

 

This has officially been the longest week of my life. So on Monday, we had to work like normal because we moved our P-day to Wednesday. Then on Tuesday, we had our monthly Mission Council meeting that was from 9:00 am until about 3:30 pm. And it was INSANE. This was the first one that Hermana Capps and I have gotten to go to. All of the sister training leaders and zone leaders are invited, and we just have huge discussions about what we want to do in the mission and what new initiatives to take. The air was so tense I seriously could have just taken out a marshmallow and put in on my pen and roasted it right there. Surprisingly, the President didn’t talk too much this time. He just sat and listened to all of our discussions and let us find the answers, occasionally bearing his rock-solid testimony. We talked a lot about introducing and completely integrating family history in all of the goals we make, how we teach, and how we record our numbers. Hermana Capps and I have some really great ideas about making Family History pass-a-long cards and also making new discs with family history videos for the mission to use in their lessons. We use a lot of burned discs here that the secretaries in the offices make with Mormon Messages and such, for our family nights and lessons with investigators. The idea is to make a new one! It’ll be cool. We’re going to the offices right after this to go and make it with the secretaries.

 

Then, on Wednesday, we got to go to the temple! I love the Lima temple so much. Just so you know, the official church photo that they use to show the temple does NOT do it justice. I got to do the initiatory and endowment for Aunt Linda Kenison! It was really great. It was the first time that I had heard the initiatory in Spanish and it was so peaceful, just what I had needed. The only thing that Linda needs now is getting sealed to her parents and husband! :)

After the temple, going to La Parque de Las Aguas  (we are SO going when you guys come down!)

After the temple, going to La Parque de Las Aguas (we are SO going when you guys come down!)

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After the temple, we went to the Parque de las Aguas! I’ve been there once but it was SO FUN getting to go there again! I got some good videos.

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On Thursday we had intercambios (exchanges) and I stayed here in Magdalena with Hermana Zaracho while Hermana Capps went to the Bolìvar ward with Hermana Rivera. Hermana Zaracho is just the sweetest, coolest person and I want to be like her when I grow up. She’s a great missionary and she’ll go far out here. Super charismatic.

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We finished the exchange on Friday and from there, spent the entire day looking up names from this list of like 50 people that the area wants us to find. They’re all names of people who have been inactive for many years and that we’re not sure if they still live here or not. We’ve found a lot of them but we still have about 30 to go. We have to get them all done by the end of the month!

 

SEEING A REAL HOUSE!!!!!! This is the first house that we've seen with a real SHINGLED ROOF in so long! And it's brick! It was amazing! Both Hermana Capps and I stopped in complete awe. God bless America :`)

SEEING A REAL HOUSE!!!!!! This is the first house that we’ve seen with a real SHINGLED ROOF in so long! And it’s brick! It was amazing! Both Hermana Capps and I stopped in complete awe. God bless America :`)

On Saturday, we got to watch General Conference again! This time, at the ward. One of our old investigators wanted to come, but when we went to pick her up for the afternoon session, we noticed that she seemed a little tipsy… But she wanted to come so what could we do? She REALLY loved it though, especially the talk by the Seventy who spoke in Spanish (his name escapes me right now) and the theme was ”Sì, Señor, yo te seguirè.” She had to go right after it was over, but we’re going to visit her again this week to really see what she thought. And to teach the Word of Wisdom again.

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Sunday was the same drill, conference! I got to see everyone from Pueblo Libre (all of the old members!) and it was SO FUN!!! We had lunch at the house of the Kairo family! Sister Kairo has a daughter serving a mission in Arizona. We six Magdalena missionaries were there, plus, as a surprise, two temple worker missionaries! They were a senior couple from Arizona, and they chose to serve an 18-month temple mission. I recognized them because I’m pretty sure the sister did my initiatory when I went to the temple for the first time! We totally saw them on Wednesday! It was interesting to talk to them. Couple missions are totally different than our missions. They can do whatever they want.

SEEING MARIA PAULA for the first time in forever yesterday at conference!!!!

SEEING MARIA PAULA for the first time in forever yesterday at conference!!!!

 

 

Conference Splurge, much needed. Milky Chocolate.

Conference Splurge, much needed. Milky Chocolate.

Even though this week has been super full, things sure have been slow lately with regards to investigators and recent converts and less actives… We haven’t been able to find anybody at all for the last couple of weeks. We had two investigators that were progressing really well, but they’ve fell off of the face of the earth. It’s been hard just walking and walking every day, and you can’t help but feel a little sad when you’re supposed to be a leader for the mission and your sector should be an example when your numbers are really crappy and you have nobody to teach. I’ve really been trying to contact every family that I see in the street though and we’ve been able to get a few new appointments of people to visit.

 

I truly love being a missionary though and I just feel so comfortable here. I can’t help but feel a little scared to go home, to be honest. In the mission, you have to completely drop the old world that you have and create a new one in the field. It creates this huge push-pull feeling between the two, and in the end, you have to leave the second world just as you had left the first. Hard things. But I still have plenty of time out here to do plenty of good work. I sure love you guys and I’m happy to hear that you got home safely, Mom! You are all the best :)

 

A heartfelt shout out to Steve and Taryn Evans, and the whole Evans family! I sure love you guys so much!!!!

 

Love,

Hermana Hollberg

 

cool fountain-pyramid!

cool fountain-pyramid!

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”We don’t pray to change God’s will; we pray to change OUR will.”‏ From 6-9-14

Note from Mom:  I’ve been having technical difficulties and couldn’t get in to WordPress to post this email from last week.  So sorry!  But it’s been solved now and I can get caught up with pictures from last week!  Here is Hannah’s letter from June 9 (and I will post another one for June 16):

Yep it's real

Yep it’s real

 

So firstly I have to kind of explain for the last week’s email.  Sometimes life is kind of a bummer.  Last Monday I was kind of feeling a little lousy but in the last week, so much has happened and I have learned so much.  It’s crazy to see how literally every little thing, every experience that happens is totally for our benefit.  There is ALWAYS a lesson.  For example, I remember on Friday, it was my birthday and we were walking and walking and walking and walking… I don’t think we had a single lesson with an investigator that day.  Just contacting and visiting a less active.  We passed this little old man who was working as a shoe-shiner in the streets.  As we walked by him, I just felt really strongly that we should go and talk to him.  Then I thought to myself, ”Oh, but we just passed him, it’s too late….” but I just kept feeling anxious like I should go and talk to him, so I turned my companion and I around and we went back.  As we said hi, a huge grin came on his face and I remember thinking, ”Ok cool, this little old guy is a nice one!”  NOPE.  He was just grinning because he was super excited to try and Bible bash us.  I hate it when that happens.  He just started to do the classic thing where they throw out random references to scriptures to sound really educated about the Bible and start to make arguments with no roots.  He was like, ”When you guys pray, do you pray with your eyes closed?  Where does it say in the Bible that you have to pray with your eyes closed??  It doesn’t!!  HA!”  And we’re just thinking inwardly, ”Look the only reason why you usually pray with your eyes closed is to focus and be respectful, but it’s not like a requisite or anything.”  Anyway, then he started ragging on us about how in the Old Testament times, the Sabbath was on Saturday.  We started explaining why the day was changed with the coming of Christ and everything but he couldn’t hear us because someone was blasting salsa music from a speaker right behind his head.  It was a lost cause.  He was just trying to fight, nothing else.  We had to leave.  As we walked away, I was just so frustrated with myself.  ”Why on earth did Heavenly Father want me to talk to that guy?”  I chalked it up to that maybe he just needs me to be more humble.  That’s usually the answer.

 

Then, yesterday morning before church started, I was thinking about what had happened and I just felt like I should study more on the subject of the Sabbath day in order to really have a solid testimony and explanation on why the change was made.  I had a really incredible study and I felt great about it.  After church, we had lunch at the house of a family that was almost all members except for the grandmother.  After we finished eating, she began to ask us about the exact same subject — why we honor Sunday now as the Sabbath day.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had never had anyone ask me that kind of question in my entire until this week.  I never had a super solid, scripture-based answer to give because I simply had never run into that problem before.  It was at that moment when I knew that I was supposed to talk to that man so that I would feel impressed to study, which prepared me to help a little sweet woman who had a sincere question.  I felt the Spirit and I knew that was the reason.  It was a huge, ”OH” moment of understanding.  Heavenly Father really does have a purpose with everything He does.

 

Like I mentioned last week, this cambio has been super hard.  Every single area that we’re in is super hard but for different reasons every time.  Here, we’re doing everything in our power day after day but we just aren’t seeing any people who really stick and want to progress.  We’re looking for people with true intention to find Christ and develop their faith but we’ve got nothing still.  But in this last week, things have just come together so much more.  I’ve had a huge understanding come to me that can be expressed by a string of scriptures.  Yes, you all need to read them.  All of them.

 

(D&C 3)

1 The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught. 3 Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;

 

(Moses 1)

to bring to pass theimmortality and eternal life of man.

 

(D&C 11)

20 Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.

 

(Matthew 10)

20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

 

(D&C 6)

34 Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.

35 Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.

36 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

37 Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen. Even though this transfer has been pretty ugly, I’ve learned so much more about what it means to be a truly successful missionary. It’s not the investigators. It’s not the numbers. It’s sure not the baptisms. Because honestly, this isn’t OUR work. It’s HIS work. His work and his glory. We’re just here to help out. Our work is to keep the commandments. We can’t choose the Salvation of a person — that’s something between God and his children. But we’re here to keep the commandments. So if we’re doing that, why should we feel sad? We have all of the reason in the world to feel joy!

 

(Alma 26)  12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak;therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, forin his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mightymiracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise hisname forever.

 

 

(Alma 29)

9 I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

 

The scriptures always say stuff way cooler than I can say it.  Anyway it’s interesting to think that every crisis that I have in the mission always ends with this incredible treasure of knowledge that just hits me and changes the way that I see and understand everything.  And that’s how the Lord works with us— chipping and us and chipping at us and humbling us down until we just become this beautiful sculpture and piece of art.  I’ve still got a whole huge way to go but I’m finally starting to see the process and recognize it.  It’s cool because it makes the hard times ok.  If it’s meant to be, it’ll be!  Simple as that.

 

So I’m ok now with everything!  UGHHHH I have SO MANY more stories to tell you guys!  Some really hilarious crazy things have happened this week with the elderly people.  For example, one old guy gave us this huge glass of cañazo which is like vodka.  He thought it was Sprite.  It was in a Sprite bottle.  Don’t worry, we definitely smelled it and noticed that something was up before we drunk it or anything.  Also this one little old lady said that she still doesn’t want to get baptized because she wants to be able to party.  We so weren’t expecting that.  TOO MANY HILARIOUS STORIES!!!  Also I wanted to tell you guys how my birthday went!!  But I don’t have any more time.  It’ll have to wait for next week.

 

Hopefully this weeks letter made up for last weeks that was kind of lousy.  ANYWAY Love you all!  I absolutely LOVED the stuff that you sent for my birthday and it was so touching to see the stuff that you wrote!!  Honestly it was such a great thing and it totally made my day.  I have the Happy Birthday letters up in my room.

 

Have a wonderful Fathers’ day on Sunday!!!

Love, Hermana Hollberg

 

Read this talk — Hitting the Mark by Elder F. Enzio Busche. Or look for the video on Youtube that has the words and photos and music at the same time.

 

Makin' tacos with the zone on last Monday

Makin’ tacos with the zone on last Monday

 

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Me, extremely lost in a game of soccer (fútbol).

Me, extremely lost in a game of soccer (fútbol).

All of the Elders were like, ”Hey we’re going to play soccer, let’s go!” Us sisters were like, ”Ok cool this is going to be fun!” And then the game starts….. It was one of those moments where you think to yourself I’ve made a huge mistake. (Arrested Development). To give you all an image of what it was like, just think if a few white girls go to Harlem New York, find some kids in a public court who have probably grown up their entire lives playing basketball in the streets, and just be like, ”Oh hey I’m just going to join in because why not?” As we started to play, it quickly dawned on me that I am in South America, playing THE big sport with a whole bunch of latinos in a majorly Elder-filled zone. I saw like the craziest tricks that I never knew existed in soccer. They were so incredibly fast and skilled, it’s like soccer is something that’s just born in them. To say that I was lost is a great understatement.

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By the way — We won. (I was not a part of that victory, I assure you. Just a part of the team.) The prize was a thing of more tacos.
And they were real tacos because our zone leader is Mexican!  They don’t eat tacos in Peru – they don’t even know what they are!

 

 

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Hermana Brudnicki with the local stray dog that always seems to show up, named ''Raichu'' (gracias a Pokémon) (the Elders named him).

Hermana Brudnicki with the local stray dog that always seems to show up, named ”Raichu” (gracias a Pokémon) (the Elders named him).

 

it's the REAL DEAL

it’s the REAL DEAL

There was a little pony too. I got on it to take a picture too (the guy let me) but it looked super angry and I could see the whites of its eyes and it started to stamp it’s little feet so I just had to bail off the side before it murdered me. Sorry folks, no picture on the pony.

 

Angry pony

Angry pony

A cute card that my companion made me

A cute card that my companion made me

 

Raw eggs and flour - a great birthday tradition in Peru

Raw eggs and flour – a great birthday tradition in Peru

 

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Birthday Cake!!!

Birthday Cake!!!

 

Birthday loot!

Birthday loot!

 

New sheets that I finally broke down and bought. Kind of ugly but kind of cute too. Can't decide.

New sheets that I finally broke down and bought. Kind of ugly but kind of cute too. Can’t decide.

 

A quail egg from down here. They're a little bigger than the guys up there!

A quail egg from down here. They’re a little bigger than the guys up there!

 

Chirimoya, my new favorite fruit.

Chirimoya, my new favorite fruit.

 

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LOVE YOU GUYS!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

¡FELIZ NAVIDAD!

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I hope you guys are all enjoying the snow!! I may or may not be slightly jealous that I’m down here living with cockroaches and spiders (when it gets hot, they come inside. Nightmares.) in about 500% humidity while you guys are playing in the snowstorms that I’ve heard about.

Here, the 24th is a lot bigger of a holiday than the 25th, which is really interesting! The Peruvians celebrate Christmas kind of in the same way that we celebrate New Years, where you stay up all night until midnight and then you have a party! It’s actually pretty stressful for us missionaries because the whole ward has been trying to get us to come to each of their family Christmas Dinners on the 24th. We are literally attending 5, I just looked at my planner for tomorrow. Oh boy. But I’m happy because we will be kept really busy. I love getting to visit families in the Christmas season because we get to watch videos and Mormon Messages and read the about the birth of Christ in the Bible and the signs of his coming in the Book of Mormon.

As for decorations, our house has a little pine-branch stuck into a box for a Christmas tree. I put some ribbon around it and made some little puff-ball ornaments out of yarn. It looks a little Dr. Seuss quality but it’s got personality!  (Mom sent this pine-branch clear down to Peru from the tree in our yard!)

Christmas Tree from home

Christmas Tree from home

It’s really cute because there are a ton of Christmas lights here in the night and a ton of little light-up snowflakes put everywhere, but it makes me laugh because a lot of people just think that they’re stars, not snowflakes! Duh, snow doesn’t exist down here!

Christmas party in the mission:  At the Christmas party we all had skits, each zone.  The whole mission can meet together fairly easily because our mission is the smallest in the world, only like 10 miles wide.  You know how if you blow on a glass bottle rim, you can have it make a little sound?  Our zone played two songs like that — Jingle Bells and Rudolph.  Everyone of us 18 missionaries in the Magdalena zone had to play different notes as each bottle had different measures of water.  It was really really fun, and it turned out literally perfect!  We did it in the same way Carolyn has the chimes tradition.

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Suqui Photo-bombing!!

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Crazy story of the week — on weekends, we have lunch with members. So we went to this little old woman’s house on Sunday who has 5 cats and it was so funny. There was cat hair in all of the food. And in the herbal tea she gave us. And in the sugar. Hahahaha bless her little heart. For a drink, she gave us this bright orange and transparent water that we thought was Kool-Aid or something… at first. Then we saw this white sludge at the bottom of the cup. The woman’s grandchild leaned over to me and said ”Sì, es gelatina.” The woman literally made Jell-O, didn’t cook it or freeze it, and gave it to us to drink. We laughed really hard about it afterwards. You just have to get used to that kind of stuff in Perù. I think I would have been really spooked by that before I came here, but now…. Nope!

Hey, if you guys want to hear a Christmas song that we hear EVERY DAY here, please search on YouTube for Mi Burrito Sabanero. It’s the cutest and weirdest song and I think it will make you all laugh. I think it’s a Mexican song but Perù has adopted it.

Anyway, things are mostly just work as usual. I’m so excited to talk to you guys on Wednesday!!! Thank you, Skype.

Oh I almost forgot, shout out to Dad, Lizzie, RJ, Rusti, Tom Romney, Oliver and Isabelle! The letters this week were AWESOME!

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. One of the many blessings of a mission is that you really come to know what really matters and what doesn’t. Something that I learned this month is that you can’t feel the true Spirit of Christmas without also feeling the Spirit of Christ. What a wonderful opportunity for us to remember the Savior’s birth and life here on the earth, and study how we can better follow his example in word and in action in 2014.

FELIZ NAVIDAD from Lima, Peru!

¡Que nuestro Padre Celestial les bendiga!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Hannah Hollberg

 

P.S.  I bought a new camera!!  I will send you whatever pictures I can off the old one first.

Family that we visit a lot

Family that we visit a lot

 

Their sweet daughter who has Down Syndrome

Their sweet daughter who has Down Syndrome

 

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Going to the temple with Esther (new member), Rafaela (little girl), and Jose.

There is a building next door to the temple that is a cafeteria and reception desk on the ground floor, a hotel on the top two floors that gives rooms to members traveling to visit the temple from the other ends of Peru for only 15 soles a night! And then the basement floor is the tiny distribution center and the family history libraries and stuff. We just walked around the grounds and the stores and everything, we didn’t go in the actual temple because Esther is just a new member and is looking forward to going in a year.

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Rafaela

Rafaela

 

 

This is Sabina. She was my first friend here in the ward. She speaks English. We are skyping at her house, spending Christmas there!

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And this is Hermana Antonio from Bolivia, who is in our ward. She is just like a Latina Caroline!

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Baptism of Julia:

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Going to the hill San Cristobel (highest point in Lima).  When we were there, we were like  ”oh wow look at all of these birds flying so high!” and then we realized that they were plastic grocery bags just flying around. Trash everywhere!

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Plaza de Armas take 2

SWELTERING HEATTTTTTT that day was so hot

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How is everybody doing?!?!??

How’s everybody doing???

I’m pleased to announce that yesterday I passed my two month mark here in Jesus Maria.  It feels like it’s been both two thousand years and two seconds.  It’s crazy.

This week has been pretty interesting.  It’s certainly had it’s ups and downs.  I fell quite ill on Monday night and I was down for 2 days, stuck in the house.  I don’t know what I had, but I had a pretty high fever and every bone in my body seemed like it wanted to separate from every other bone.  It was super painful and I got really really discouraged.  I almost had to go to the clinic, but on the second day, I received a priesthood blessing from my zone leaders and by the end of the night, my appetite was back and I felt SO much better.  I felt literally healed.  My testimony of the priesthood has grown soooo much since I’ve come on the mission!

We were supposed to have that baptism last Saturday but we had to push it back a month because he’s a minor and his mom really doesn’t want him to feel pressured to be baptized (especially because his brother is a member already).  Of course we totally understand, but it’s too bad because Klein has SUCH a strong testimony and it’s totally HIS desire to join the church.  This week we’re encouraging him to talk to his mom and explain personally that these desires really are his.  He’s so great, honestly, he could teach us.  There are so many strong people here in Lima, so many great examples.

We didn’t have that baptism, but we are going to have another one this Saturday!  It was crazy!  His name is Jordan, and he’s just about to turn 23.  We taught him for the first time in maybe my first or second week here, and he loved it, but then he dropped off of the face of the planet.  We didn’t know where he went and no matter what we did we couldn’t get a hold of him!  Out of nowhere this week, we heard that he had been attending church at another ward the whole time, and that he had been trying to contact us but didn’t have enough time.  His schedule freed up this last week and we were able to teach him again.  As soon as we saw him and started to ask him how he was, he said ”I’m so sorry that I haven’t kept in touch, I feel really bad, but I’m going to be baptized!!  I know for myself that the church is true!”  We were really taken back.  Such a miracle!  He didn’t even need us!  So true though, it’s the Spirit that teaches, not us.  Anyway he wants to be baptized ASAP so we have to teach him like two lessons in every time we see him so he can be ready for this Saturday.  It’s been such pleasure to work with both Jordan and Klein this last week.

Yeah, on the mission it’s true that we literally leave everything from our former lives to serve.  We dedicate ourselves to live with half a million strict rules to share the Spirit.  I’ll tell you guys, there’s nothing cooler in the whole world than bearing your testimony to someone, saying ”I know that this is true because I really feel it.  Every time I read, every time I pray, I feel a presence and a peace in my heart,” and hearing the investigator say to you, ”I…. feel it too.  Right now!  I feel something, right here, in my heart.  I feel so much peace and tranquility.”  We teach people how to feel the Holy Ghost, how to recognize an answer or a manifestation from God, and then the rest comes quickly.  God loves every single one of us, in the same way that our parents love us and we love them, and He will answer every single one of our prayers if our desires are sincere and we let him answer.  The mission is such a blessing.  I have learned so much and I have seen my character and spirituality grow mountains.  Honestly, I think we missionaries are overpaid in blessings for the work.

I hope all is going well in the good old US of A.  I’m having a good time and I’m learning a ton.  Thank you everybody for the emails and for the support!!!!!!!!!!!
Hasta luego
hna Hollberg

Happy Birthday to Tom!!

Happy Birthday to Tom!!

 

¡Hola!

So……… I guess I’m almost finishing up week three now! It is absolutely insane. I really dont know how to begin these letters home because there is SO MUCH to recap. Like I think I said before, the days are like weeks and the weeks are like days. I am doing really well, the spanish is coming along incredibly quickly. Two nights ago we had a devotional (it was a REALLY big deal because it was an actual person — not a DVD recording from Provo) from a newly ordained member of the Seventy from the north of Mexico. He spoke in English to us even though it’s his second language, but they had a native interpreter following everything he said and repeating it for the native Mexican missionaries here. If I concentrated, I could understand honestly just about everything he said which is HUGE for how little time I’ve been here and because he was native and was speaking really quickly. It’s really exciting but at the same time I wish I could just learn faster!!! Spanish is the best, I can’t believe that I’ve never know it before. Mis compañeras and I actually have a hard time saying stuff in English sometimes (for instance, prayers) because we’re so used to using the language. It’s EXHILIRATING.
Picture of me emailing literally right now!

Picture of me emailing literally right now!

Sisters Hollberg and Capp

Sisters Hollberg and Capp

Living in Mexico City is…….. really, really sketchy. Everything is sketchy. You just get used to it. Cockroaches in the showers, laundry turning your clothes weird colors, hearing fireworks (or gunshots?) at all times of day and night, sirens, honking, policemen with huge guns, weird things you buy from the store (yesterday we bought some hairspray and it had a picture of una mujer y una niña on the front but it smelled like cologne?), the FOOD (oh my gosh, everything that’s supposed to be hot is cold and everything that’s supposed to be cold is hot, and there are hot dogs in everything)….. This week was pretty rough as far as water goes. The water is already sketchy—on day one here they gave us all those filtering water bottles—but two days ago our water got shut off for some reason in the house and we didn’t have any for a while, but when it was finally back on the water that came out was DARK BROWN, and there were mosquitos floating around in it.
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Our toilet was full of dirt too, same with the showers. We have this deal with some of the elders in our district where we make ice for them because we have a mini fridge (long story) in exchange for our dishes being done and that night when we went to fill our ice tray it looked like someone had taken a pepper shaker and shaken it in the water because there were big black flakes/chunks in it. So we filtered it. But yeah…. then since yesterday morning we haven’t had any hot water at all so we all took the coldest showers!!! It was nuts. Hma. Brudnicki actually just washed her hair in the sink this morning because it was so cold. We have some pretty crazy stories about stuff like this, but honestly, I’ve never been so consistently happy in my life. We are all having such a blast down here, and we laugh so hard that we cry pretty much every day. There are a LOT things that we miss about the United States (and I mean A LOT — I took SO much for granted  I can’t believe it) but we’ve just gotten used to everything being weird I guess. Living here isn’t exactly comfortable but honestly there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be.  I’m not homesick but I think about you guys a lot and I pray for you. I really hope you all are well.
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Like I’ve said before, we have SO many hilarious stories of things that have been happening… Let me just write a few:
–As far as spanish goes: So we’ve been teaching lessons to ”investigators” since day two now (completely in spanish, it was so scary the first time because none of us knew ANYTHING in spanish and they told us we had to teach a 40 minute lesson on the second day!) and we’ve taught maybe ten or so lessons like that and they usually go pretty well, but I have to tell you that I’ve said some funny things on accident, along with some other people. A couple lessons ago I was trying to offer a pamphlet to my teacher and I accidentally said ”¿Te quiero? Oh WAIT no no no no that’s not what I meant!!!” Basically I told him that I loved him. He was like ”¡Oh, muchas gracias Hermana!”’ all laughing at me and such. Also in that same lesson he was telling me about how he went to his cousin’s baptism and I meant to ask him if he felt peace while he was there but I accidentally mixed up the words for ”peace” and ”fish” (they’re really similar to pronounce!) so I basically asked him if he felt the fish at the baptism. He laughed so hard at me. That’s not as bad as one Elder though —- OH MY GOSH: he was really happy and he meant to say to the investigator ”I’m so full of JOY!!” in spanish but he accidentally said ”I’m so full of GAS!!” (gozo = joy, gaso = gas). That one definitely takes the cake.
–On tuesday we were learning the ”Comand” tense in spanish class which is basically sentences like ”Come here” and ”Listen to me” and we were all going around in the classroom and practicing making simple little sentences like ”Please read this scripture?” and ”Don’t call your mom,” just random stuff like that. Then our friend Elder Steiner (who is hilarious) just yelled in spanish ”GET IN THE VAN” in his best Batman voice and it was SO FUNNY we just about DIED, especially because the verb he chose was ”to arrive” so he pretty much just yelled ”ARRIVE IN THE VAN!!” It’s our current district inside joke, I’m laughing so hard right now just remembering it.
Elder Wright and Elder Steiner eating 10 Listerine Strips on a dare

Elder Wright and Elder Steiner eating 10 Listerine Strips on a dare

Elder Park and Elder Wright

Elder Park and Elder Wright

–Our best prank/surprise for our teacher: Ok so Hermano Torres is super into Pokemon (he’s a pretty recent Returned Missionary) and he lets us draw Pokemon stuff on the board, but the other day he had to step out because he was pretending to be an ”investigator” for two Elders so he was gone for about 40 minutes. Elder Wright (our district leader) went and put on his suit jacket and name tag and went up to the board and started teaching us a lesson on Capitulo 14 in Predicad mi Evangelio titled ”¡Necesita Agarrar Todos!” and it was absolutely HILARIOUS. Caroline, you have to translate those phrases that are written on the board — I’ll send you guys the pictures. You’ll laugh so hard when you see what they say. Hermano Torres liked it so much when he got back that he made Elder Wright start all over and he filmed the lesson with his laptop. We actually learned a lot of new vocabulary from doing it, though, so it was all in good fun.
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–Yesterday we had some free time and we were playing MASH with some of the Elders in our district and we were writing down ideas of pets for the game and Elder Steiner just goes ”OH MY GOSH, you have to write down a SLOW LORIS” and we had no idea what that was and he started to tell us about this YouTube video called ‘Slow Loris eats a riceball’ and we couldn’t even understand what he was saying because he totally LOST IT. It took him about 10 minutes to compose himself, he was laughing so hard and tears were falling down his face. Then at dinner last night he walked past us hermanas and Hermana Capp just looked at him and went ”What was that thing again, a slow loris? Did you say it was holding a tiny little umbrella?” and he just LOST it again. He had to go back to his table with his companion and put his head down while he was just heaving with laughter. He couldn’t even speak for a good 5 minutes. It was THE FUNNIEST thing I have ever seen. He told us we can’t do that to him anymore though. But anyway, whatever it is you guys HAVE to watch that video and tell me about what it is because we have no clue. Write me back and tell me what it is.
Slow Loris Eating Rice Ball

Slow Loris Eating Rice Ball

I have about 35498 more stories that I could write but I only have about 15 more minutes left to send my photos and everything so I’ll just wrap up with some spiritual things. So like I’ve said, we’ve been teaching a lot of lessons to investigators recently. These last three days, the Hermanas and I have really had a breakthrough, but it wasn’t in the way we would have expected. We just started teaching a new ”investigator” named Javier. (He is a church member now; he comes in to help missionaries train and to further his own understanding.)  He is not like the other people we’ve taught so far because he is REALLY inquisitive and he asks really deep questions that are hard to answer in Spanish. He has definitely been the most challenging investigator so far for us. To make a long story short, we have had a hard time this week because we have felt disappointed in ourselves and really frustrated at the lengths of our abilities. It drains every bit of physical, emotional and spiritual energy you have. Last night though, we had an AMAZING lesson though that changed everything. And get this — most of it was personal studying. The Hermana’s and I received so many answers to our prayers and we have felt so guided. After 15 minutes of reading the scriptures and pondering I had a whole page of notes of thoughts that popped into my head and I knew what I was going to do in the next lesson, whereas an hour before that we were all devastated because we had no clue how we were going to approach our next meeting with Javier. One of the impressions I had was that we should pray with him in the lesson together, and at first I was scared because I didn’t know how to approach it because I was worried he would reject our invitation, and right when I started thinking that our teacher Hermana Plowman was like ”Ok, Elderes y Hermanas, I feel impressed that now we should do some role playing and practice praying WITH our investigators in the meetings. Hermana Hollberg, will you be my companion for a class demonstration?” (all in Spanish, of course.) Guys, the church is true.
I know a lot of people say this but being here is for SURE the hardest thing that I have done. I haven’t thought that or understood that until this week. But I can’t tell you how often I pray in my heart how grateful I am that I am here. I have learned SO much I can’t even tell you, and honestly half of it, if not the majority of EVERYTHING I’ve learned has been from the Spirit. Learning how to recognize it, follow it, learn from it. I honestly can say that I have felt guided in my learning here. Guys, read the scriptures every day. Read Jesus the Christ. It’ll change your life. I feel stronger than I have ever been in my whole life.
I hope everything is ok back home. I really do pray for you about 5 times a day. Don’t worry about me, I’m being taken care of.
Muchos amor, Hma. Hollberg
Chris this one's for you!

Chris this one’s for you!