¡FELIZ NAVIDAD!‏

 

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… ¡y prospero año nuevo!

Can you guys believe that Christmas is already here?? I can’t. What the heck, it’s like, in two days. Here the 24th is counted more as Christmas than the 25th. Odd, huh? What do you guys want for Christmas? I don’t want y’all to be jealous, but I’m kinda going to have the best Christmas present ever: I’ll be seeing my family crazy soon. And I’ll be seein’ my mom and Tom in like a week. I know, pretty great, right? It’s because I finally learned how to behave.

This week has been quite eventful. So on Monday I had dinner at the President’s house. I think I could write like an entire book about how that went. Luckily I’m like out of time to write you guys! But it was really odd because it doesn’t feel real yet that I’m going. I just felt sort of out of place. (There were 5 of us there, and three already left this week, including my BFF Hermana Brudnicki. She’s already with her family!!!) But it was a VERY edifying meeting and a VERY delicious dinner. Seriously. AMERICAN FOOD! We ate Lùcuma Pie for dessert. Yum.

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President and Sister Borg’s engagement picture!

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And their sweet wedding photo.

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Dinner at president’s house.

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Elder Unguez signing the tie that president cut off. It’s a tradition with everyone who finishes. Hermana Borg has been saving all of the Elders’ ties and is going to make a huge quilt out of all of them when she and president finish their mission. She has us sisters sign little squares of fabric.

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View out of their window

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On Tuesday, we went over to our mission leader’s house and helped them set up for Christmas as a service project. His wife is still down and occupied with the new baby and so we were happy to help. It was a lot of fun!!!

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Also, in the evening we had the relief society party!!! It was cool. It was supposed to start at 5 though but it started at 8pm…. we were going to show this presentation we made about the Living Christ, (basically the PowerPoint that mom made, but in Spanish) but after about 20 million technical difficulties and a whole lot of frustration, we weren’t able to show it. We were really bummed, to be honest. Totally destroyed. But then we thought that we could show it at the ward Christmas party on Saturday.

Thursday we spent in the family history center, covering a couple of shifts.

And Friday was my LAST SHIFT EVER…… sad stuff. We have to close the center for the holidays. It won’t open up until January 6th. So that was it!! My baby… the center…. now it’s all grown up and I have to let it go :'( I wonder who’s going to take my place as the next family history sister ??? I’m going to suggest Hermana Zumba.

On Saturday morning, as we were leaving missionary correlation with the mission leader, we passed by a little wooden house on the same street where our mission leader lives. Elder Scott turned to us, and said, ”Hey, have you guys contacted that place yet?” No, we hadn’t. He said, ”Well, you should. Because when we passed, I felt something really good about it. Bye!” And that was it. So yesterday after lunch, we went back and knocked on the door. A little old woman came out and we began to contact her. We told her that we share a message about Jesus Christ, and she said sincerely, ”¿Qué cosa es Jesucristo?” We started to explain about how He is the Son of God who was sent to free us from the burdens of the weaknesses and errors of this world, and to help us perfect ourselves, etc. And she became really interested with the way that we were explaining him. She said, ”And do you have anything more that you could let me borrow to read? Or just this little card?” We gave her a booklet for lesson 3 and told her that we could come back to explain it more this week, and she said that she would love it! She was so sincere! She told us that she was excited and that she would be waiting for us, then said, ”Hey, knock on the next door down—-my neighbor would also be interested!” And there we had it — a new investigator and another reference, all from a feeling that Elder Scott had. It’s so true that the only way that we can find new investigators with true intent is through the Spirit. Without it, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack! The Lord sure works through mysterious ways.

 

On Saturday, the ward Christmas party was a BLAST! A good number of people turned up, including a lot of less active members, recent converts and also investigators! We got all geared up to give the Living Christ presentation, but it didn’t end up working out again :/

BUT — we didn’t lose hope. Norma (the RS Pres.) told us that we could show it in the last 10 minutes of relief society. We started getting everything ready during the second hour block, and boy, I can’t even tell you everything that we went through. EVERYTHING POSSIBLE that could have gone wrong… DID! EVERYTHING. I think that the adversary was REALLY working hard against this thing. There were so many interpersonal problems, technical problems, logistical problems, social problems, communication problems, support problems, leadership problems…. It was such a complete nightmare that believe it or not, we ended up literally crying in frustration and sadness. But somehow, after 2 hours of fighting and fighting to figure out a way to make it work, it came through. We were able to project it in the sacrament meeting room and share it with the ward. It turned out great and I really hope that it was able to touch their hearts. The Living Christ document is such a powerful testimony of the Savior and it’s one of the perfect scriptures to read and study for the Christmas season.

 

Well, I have REALLY got to go but I just want to share with you guys my testimony that this work is one of the most BEAUTIFUL things that exist on this planet. A mission, if you do it with your whole heart, is one of the most amazingly powerful and edifying experiences that one can have. It’s the best way to help your current family and also your future family. I don’t know how things are going to be when I get back home, and I know that I can’t expect them to be easy, but Preach my Gospel says something really lovely that I would like to share: ”President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “We are commanded by God to take this gospel to all the world. That is the cause that must unite us today. Only the gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite men of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 167).”  (In Chapter 1)
His gospel is a message of peace and goodwill. It’s hope and it’s change for the better. It’s progress, and true, lasting happiness. I’ve never been more happy in my life than I am now. It’s such a blessing to be able to have this knowledge of faith, repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and how to endure and make it to the end—finish strong. Like any loving father would do for his children, Heavenly Father gives us all of the tools that we need to make it through whatever hurdle life (or the adversary) throws at us. Because it’s all part of the plan: we are born to succeed. Literally everything is in our favor. God is literally on our team in this game, and if we give everything to Him, there’s no way that we can fail. Like the 4th missionary says — Alone, we can only make a smudge of ourselves. But with His power, He can make ourselves like Christ. Everything will pass. It always does. And that’s what I’m going to have to be telling myself. For like my whole life. Good thing that the Mission has really taught me that principle well. And I know that throughout my life, I’ll have the opportunity to gain a whole lot more testimonies in addition to it!
That’s the Spirit!
Well, I’ve gotta run. Missionary work is calling. There are people to visit. There are families to strengthen. There is also hot chocolate to be drunk and panneton to be eaten. ¡Chau!
See y’all next week!!!
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Love,
Hermana Hollberg

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A really delicious lamb soup that the RS President Norma made for us! A specialty. Norma is from Ayacucho and all of them speak Quechua too. She taught me a couple of phrases. :)

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Us with ELDER UCEDA, THE AREA PRESIDENT (!!!) at our ward Christmas party on Saturday. We were totally star struck. As soon as we started talking to him, he started asking us about our ward council and if we're asking people for references or not. It was a little scary but AWESOME.

Us with ELDER UCEDA, THE AREA PRESIDENT (!!!) at our ward Christmas party on Saturday. We were totally star struck. As soon as we started talking to him, he started asking us about our ward council and if we’re asking people for references or not. It was a little scary but AWESOME.

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With the Relief Society President!!! She's our BFF!

With the Relief Society President!!! She’s our BFF!

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We were trying to bring a little more life to the party (because it started out reallllly dead), so we started taking little silly pictures and soon enough, all of the little ladies were dying laughing and doing it too!!! Spreading Christmas Cheer!

We were trying to bring a little more life to the party (because it started out reallllly dead), so we started taking little silly pictures and soon enough, all of the little ladies were dying laughing and doing it too!!! Spreading Christmas Cheer!

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Live nativity. Mission leader was Joseph!

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Sketch by the young men.

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Primary!!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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¡Noq’a kany Perumanta!‏ (Quechua language!)

Wanna see something weird? I got to try on brown color contact lenses

Wanna see something weird? I got to try on brown color contact lenses

 

I have the coolest companion that’s been teaching me little phrases in quechua!!

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I hope that you guys have had a great week! Things are going really well down here in Las Brisas. I think these last two cambios have been the most fun in my entire life! Like really though. Hermana Choque and I have been hitting hard with this Él es la Dádiva thing (He is the Gift) and we’ve put the cards on our apartment windows and in the center, and we talked to all of the other family history consultants about showing the video to the visitors that pass by. Attendance is down a little bit over there in the IRU because classes are out for this month, but it might be to our advantage because we going to focus on getting a hold of all of the main YSA leaders in the different stakes and inviting them to come down and get excited about it all. Hermana Choque and I are really fasting and praying for new investigators. We’ve got a few that totally want to get baptized, but have problems with marriage papers and such. It’s a rough spot. Hopefully we can get everything worked out. As for gaining trust in the ward, we’ve been taking the Ammon approach (service) and it’s been really helpful. I think things are really brightening up down here. Our ward council is gaining more and more trust with us, and the only thing left that we have to do is help them to use our progress reports. Up until now, they’ve been a little pointless but with a little patience and diligence in the meetings I think it’ll all be alright!

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This week, it’s been a little difficult as far as visits go. I know that the missionary handbook of rules says that supposedly holidays are the best days to proselyte because many families are home, but that sure doesn’t hold true down here in Peruvia. Nobody wants to receive a visit from the missionaries right now. This week has been a whole lot of walking and walking and walking and walking…. I feel like every day we’re singing that primary song about Pioneer Children.. ja ja ja… It’s ok though. Things’ll let up soon. We’ve been contacting a lot of people in the street and it looks like we’ve found a few new appointments for this week. One of the great things is that for the last month or so, we’ve been finding just in the road (they’ve come up to us every time!) about 3 golden investigators or golden less-active members that are ready to be reactivated PER WEEK (I’ve never seen so many cases like this in a row in my entire mission!), but every single time they’ve been referrals for other missionaries because they live in other ward boundaries or stakes. D’oh! Nah, but it’s ok because we’re really happy for them and for the initiative that they’ve taken to increase their faith and get to know the Savior more.  The important part is that we’re helping the Lord out with these guys.

 

I forgot to mention it last week, but on Saturday, our ward had our GRAN Feria de Historia Familiar!! It was probably one of the best, most organized that I’ve ever seen — and the best part was that the ward did everything! It was incredible. Our High Priest Group Leader planned out everything from organizing a ton of different classrooms to be operating simultaneously, to balloon archways, to giving out gift bags to all of the visitors with pens and booklets and cards about the temple. The only thing that they asked us to do was to be there and bring a few other companionships of missionaries to contact people in the street and bring them in for an introduction to the church. We got permission from the zone leaders to borrow a few more from the zone, and it was a huge success! We taught about 20 new investigators!! Even one woman said that she used to always walk behind the church to get to her house, but for some reason she felt like walking in front, and that’s when the Elders contacted her. Lucky Elder Gonzalez and Elder Scott have about 13 referrals or so… Hermana Choque and I are totally jealous. It was such a flawless effort between missionary work and family history. So proud!!!

 

One of our dear member friends named Anibal loaned us this incredible and original book that’s hand-written from 1914. A hundred years ago! It was written by his grandmother here in Lima, and it’s all beautiful, beautiful poetry. He loaned it to us for two reasons — there was a poem in there in English that was really sweet about how we should always keep learning our entire lives, and he wanted me to translate it into Spanish because he never knew what it said. Also, he was wondering if we could scan the whole thing in and digitalize it with the scanner in the family history center, so that it could be preserved. The Elders helped us out and after about an entire hour of scanning, we got it done. I totally meant to bring my USB so that I could send you guys a photo so you could see the amazing calligraphy, but I left it home this morning! Sorry. But I’ll send it next week for sure.

 

On Friday we had a really fun family night at the house of our mission leader and we made Christmas letters and watched church Christmas movies and ate panneton and hot chocolate and ice-cream and it was a lot of fun. We invited a couple other recent convert families and it was a bash! Hopefully they can forward on the photos to me. :)

 

So Christmas is approaching, and tonight I have to go to dinner at the President’s house along with everyone else who’s finishing their missions in December. It’s a mission tradition that everyone who’s finishing goes to eat with him and Hermana Borg cooks. I don’t know how it will go but I’m kind of nervous. It’s weird because it doesn’t even feel like the Christmas season at all! Not just because it’s almost summer, but in general. This Christmas is so much different than the last one. Sometimes Hermana Choque and I forget that it’s going to be so soon. The same goes for going home. The other missionaries in the zone sure have a hoot making fun of me and joking about how I’m getting ”trunky” and counting down the days, but the sincere, real truth is that I haven’t! I know that I’m going to be with my parents in about two weeks, but it just seems like a dream. It doesn’t seem real. It’s just work as usual! In fact, if anything, I think that my stress is taking the form of wanting to get as much work done as possible, and it’s making me anxious to try and teach 1,874 lessons and find 896 people every week. I want to get everything done before they kick me out!! There are still so many things that we have to do in the center that we’ve planned!!! Agh. But who knows. Life is weird. I’m content with not being trunky though. I’ll let you guys know how everything goes!

 

¡Noq’a yachani kay iglesia verdadero casjanta!

 

¡Jayanakusun kunintan! :)

 

Love, Hermana Hollberg

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Brown Eyes!

 

Playing with this crazy kitten we found in the street. It took us about 10 minutes to catch it. It did NOT want to be held!!! It was a housecat though, don’t worry.

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I don’t know we were really bored that night (it was a very long day of walking and walking and walking with no luck) so we just took a ton of pictures of this cat playing with its mom. The mom-cat brought the kitten a little cockroach to play with.  How sweet… haha

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An odd note that someone put on our door. It says ''God loves he who repents of heart.''

An odd note that someone put on our door. It says ”God loves he who repents of heart.”

 

at the grocery store.... totally normal.  Those are pigs on the right...

at the grocery store…. totally normal. Those are pigs on the right…

 

Relaxing under the palm trees on p-day

Relaxing under the palm trees on p-day

 

 

 

Él es la Dádiva / He is the Gift‏

Water Balloons for Pday today!

Water Balloons for Pday today!

Ok, so we’re going to start things super didactically today. We’re going to use our imaginations. Ok, picture someone taking a live frog, knocking it on a table really quickly to kill it, taking off it’s skin, throwing it in some boiling water for a minute, then tossing it into a blender with some milk, honey, maca….. and then drinking it! It’s supposedly really healthy!!!!! Well…. seeing as this is my last month and how I’ve gotta go hard and leave everything in the court here in Perú… Hermana Choque and I HAD to dare each other to try it. I sure love that girl so much. We have so much fun together. And guess what?? The extract was REALLY GROSS!!! But hey I did it and I finished it all and now I can cross it off of my bucket list. So there!!

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So I’m sure that you have all heard about the lovely He is the Gift campaign — it’s a huge way of spreading Christmas cheer to the whole world by reminding us about the true reason behind Christmas. It’s all centered around this absolutely beautiful small video that the church made, which can be found at navidad.mormon.org or at christmas.mormon.org. Spoiler alert: It’s a tear-jerker. As missionaries, the church is having us work really hard about sharing it with just about everyone that we can. Hermana Choque and I got really into it and we filled the family history center with the contact cards, and even put some more on the window in our apartment, for all of the people who pass by! I really invite all of you folks out there to watch it, or watch it again if you have already seen it, because it has such a great message about how we can really take the best out of this Christmas season. After all, He was the first gift that started it all. And the greatest gift. See John 3:16.

http://www.mormon.org/Christmas

 

A couple of weeks ago, I found out that two of my investigators back in San Silvestre got baptized!! I can’t tell you guys how HAPPY that has made me!!!! San Silvestre was probably the toughest sector out of my entire mission, and to hear that two of the people that we taught back there made the decision to get baptized…. that makes me SO HAPPY! One of them was this sweet little old man named Teofilo. He was baptized by Jesús, the recent-convert youth that Hermana Sanjines and I took to the temple for the first time back in the day with Martha. So great!! On Thursday, we had my last Mission Council, and we got to announce all of the achievements and numbers from the center! It was a lot of fun. We also got to hear about all of the fun plans for the mission Christmas party this year. It’s going to be a blast!

This week, it was our sweet pensionista Mayra’s birthday on Friday. We got up extra early to make her real-deal banana pancakes. It was awesome! I think I’m really getting the hang of making those things. Hermana Choque loved them too. Also, on Saturday, we got up early to make French toast because we had to have our meeting with our Mission Leader really early in the morning. In this ward, to gain trust, Hermana Choque and I have been taking the ”Ammon” Approach (or in other words, the service approach) and we’ve been having a lot of great success! If you can’t beat ’em, serve ’em! Things are getting better here every week.

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At cambios, there were a ton of sectors that were closed because we’re losing a lot of missionaries at once. Especially sisters. In my group that’s going this transfer, there’s 19 of us. Sad enough, the sector that I opened in Barranco a year ago is closed now, so now there’s only Elders there. Crazy, right? :/

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With some more missionary friends. At cambios with Elder Castro, the last Assistant to the President who helped Hermana Capps and I out a ton.

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Taking a picture with Elder Tonga — a football star from the University of Utah team!! He’s a cool kid.

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With the old Mexico crew… minus Hermana Brudnicki.

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With my Ecuadorian daughter, Hermana Zumba, and my new Colombian granddaughter, Hermana Linares!! Hermana Zumba is training again this transfer! She’s my second granddaughter.

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Us with Elder Lemon!!! Shout out to the Lemon family!

Us with Elder Lemon!!! Shout out to the Lemon family!

Trunky Placas!! Everyone has these cool nametags for their last transfer that says the name of the mission and the time limits, but they messed up on mine and haven't sent it to me, so I got left out. but we still took a picture!

Trunky Placas!! Everyone has these cool nametags for their last transfer that says the name of the mission and the time limits, but they messed up on mine and haven’t sent it to me, so I got left out. but we still took a picture!

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In the bus... Everything is really small here (Peruvian scale). Elder Dahlin finally found room to stand up straight on the bus by sticking his head in the fire escape thing.

In the bus… Everything is really small here (Peruvian scale). Elder Dahlin finally found room to stand up straight on the bus by sticking his head in the fire escape thing.

And finally…. speaking of cambios…. So on Tuesday I had to get up and bear my testimony in front of the whole mission with the other 18 missionaries, including Hermana Capps and Hermana Brudnicki. I was so nervous, I can’t even tell you guys. I had no idea what to say. For a lot of people, they get really emotional in their final testimony. There is a good amount of crying at change meetings, usually, to be honest. I’m not a crier or anything but I was still a little nervous about caving under pressure. But in the end, above all, I just prayed that something that I shared would help someone else who was there. Sometimes, in the last testimony, missionaries talk about their companions or about their life story, or they just keep it really short and stick to the basics. Every testimony is so unique — I guess that you could say that there aren’t two that are alike. What I decided to do in the end was bear a testimony about the big lesson that I’ve learned from each one of my sectors. Guys, mission presidents really do receive revelation for their missionaries. It’s so true. I have loved each one of my wards so much and I feel like I have learned a huge, everlasting, impactful lesson from each one of them. I’m out of time but to briefly share with you my recap:

 

  1. Pueblo Libre (Jesús María) — I learned and can bear testimony that the grace of the Savior is real. He expects that we constantly try our best—-not that we are instantly and absolutely perfect. The grace of God isn’t a motor that kicks in when we’ve done all that we can, but rather the motor that is constantly moving us to reach our goals.
  2. Barranco — I learned and can bear testimony that sometimes Heavenly Father has to take away everything that we’ve known and everyone that we’ve ever met, so that we can really get to know HIM. I learned that above all, we have a divine nature that nobody can change or take away, and that our life’s greatest work is ourselves.
  3. San Silvestre — I learned and can bear testimony that the promises that Heavenly Father makes to us will ALWAYS be fulfilled. You must always have faith, hope charity—they are the greatest requisites for this work. Those three attributes of the Lord will be the fuel that will keep us working and working and working through all of the dark times, until we find that moment that is precious and sweet above all others, when we reach our goal and find the reward that our loving Father in Heaven has prepared for us.
  4. From Magdalena and Las Brisas — I learned, maybe as the greatest lesson of all, that the hard things in this life really are for our good. Sometimes as youth, and even as missionaries, we think that we’ve learned it all and that we’ve already reached our potential; that the rest of our life is just going to be cotton candy because we’ve already figured it all out. But the truth is that we’re just at the front door of our life. We know that hard things are going to come our way. Harder than we can probably imagine. But one of the beautiful things about serving a mission is that it gives us that chance and that testimony that in the end, we really can look back at those moments that were hardest of all and we can see how far that we have come, thanks to them. I know that these experiences and these testimonies are going to be the ones that help us have a strong foundation for the many more beautiful and maybe sad things that we will have to face in this life.

Well, I really have to go now, but I just want you guys to know how much I really do love you and appreciate you. You guys are the best family in the world. And for those of you friends out there, thank you so much for the support too! It means a lot to me. I hope you all have a great week!! Take care!!!!

Love,

Hermana Hollberg

Eating a really delicious dish from Tumbes, where my pensionista grew up! Mussels.. that's what they're called, right? Seeing as Bolivia doesn't have any ocean, it was the first time that my companion had ever tried this kind of dish.

Eating a really delicious dish from Tumbes, where my pensionista grew up! Mussels.. that’s what they’re called, right? Seeing as Bolivia doesn’t have any ocean, it was the first time that my companion had ever tried this kind of dish.

 

 Opening up a real, fresh coconut and drinking the juice. It's actually really really strong! It's way better diluted.


Opening up a real, fresh coconut and drinking the juice. It’s actually really really strong! It’s way better diluted.

Going to see the son of our mission leader again -- baby Jeremy!

Going to see the son of our mission leader again — baby Jeremy!

The Elders playing foosball with a little LIME they found who-knows-where. Actually it's not surprising to find limes everywhere here in Perú!

The Elders playing foosball with a little LIME they found who-knows-where. Actually it’s not surprising to find limes everywhere here in Perú!

 

Family History  baptismal font room, which we decorated. We were in charge of getting it all ready to teach all of the non-members who came.

Family History baptismal font room, which we decorated. We were in charge of getting it all ready to teach all of the non-members who came.

Elders contacting people in the street to invite them to the fair!

Elders contacting people in the street to invite them to the fair!

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The Family History Fair on Saturday!

The Family History Fair on Saturday!

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I straightened Hermana Choque's hair and it's reallllllllly longggggg... she has the most hair out of anyone that I have ever known! I don't know what her secret is! It's like flipping Tangled, the movie, or something

I straightened Hermana Choque’s hair and it’s reallllllllly longggggg… she has the most hair out of anyone that I have ever known! I don’t know what her secret is! It’s like flipping Tangled, the movie, or something

Yesterday we took this little man in a wheelchair out to the park as a service project, and we talked to him for a while to cheer him up, and then these really beautiful birds flew down and were right in front of us in the grass! Hermana Choque snapped a few pictures.

Yesterday we took this little man in a wheelchair out to the park as a service project, and we talked to him for a while to cheer him up, and then these really beautiful birds flew down and were right in front of us in the grass! Hermana Choque snapped a few pictures.

Family night last night with the Cheffer family!!! They're the best! Playing games about unity.

Family night last night with the Cheffer family!!! They’re the best! Playing games about unity.

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I can’t believe I’m here.‏

This cambio is already over!! How did that happen? This transfer has officially been the fastest one that I have ever had. It’s been really great and also bittersweet. In these 6 weeks that have blown by like wildfire, Hermana Choque and I have both learned a lot of things. There have been some amazing amazing times and also some really difficult moments too. But overall, I’d have to say that this transfer has been one of the most rewarding, fun transfers of my whole mission. And it was my last complete transfer in the field! Guys…. like, this is almost over! I’m going to be done at the very end of this month. I feel so incredibly torn. I feel like I just want to stay here and keep working. Hermana Choque and I have had so many ideas for this place and we feel like we’ve finally figured it out and what we’re going to do here for the next while and everything… and before I know it, they’ll be kicking me out! Just after we’re finally getting the hang of everything. This is craziness!

The bishop and his family

The bishop and his family

 

Zone photo

Zone photo

 

So yesterday we finished up the very first month here in the best Family History Center in the world! It’s been a blast. Getting to spend time here has been such a blessing and a pleasure. We’ve had the opportunity to meet so many people and see so many little daily miracles happen here. In total, in these three weeks, we’ve had 222 visitors! It’s so exciting! 20 names were sent directly to the temple system to get done and 141 were printed off to be taken and done there. To be honest, I would never have guessed that I would be doing all of this genealogy and family history stuff. Never would have even had an INKLING about it! But here I am and for Thanksgiving, I am so glad that I have gotten the opportunity to develop my testimony more about it. It’s so exciting to see in the world how much missionary work is changing and the church is developing. We all know that the church has three purposes, right: Perfect the saints, missionary work, and redeem the dead. Every day, the world is beginning to see that these three are more connected than ever. They aren’t three separate departments in the church, but really they are all made by the same redeeming power of the Atonement! (See President Kimball’s quote in Preach My Gospel, in chapter nine, the Family History section.) We realize that as missionaries, if we find a person who has a true desire to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ and join the church, and they decide to get baptized, and if we teach them about family history too, it will give them that root desire to live worthy of going to the temple and naturally they will become more perfected bit by bit! It all makes sense! :)

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At the same time, being in the center has been a lot of fun, but it’s also been hard because it has taken us away from our sector and investigators and our members that we’ve been visiting. We can’t help but feel a little sad. But next cambio will be a lot better now that we’ve trained the other companionships — we’ll have more time. But our last investigator dropped us yesterday, and it was really really sad. It wasn’t because we weren’t visiting him enough or anything, but for personal reasons. But he’s really great and we’ve been visiting him for a few weeks now, talking to him about the Plan of Salvation and everything. He promised us that he was going to come to church yesterday, and he was really excited about it, but then when we went to his house (with our ward mission leader) to pick him up in the morning, he just opened up the door, gave us a little note, and closed the door again. The note basically said that in the war, as a marine, he had killed someone and felt like he had lost his soul and that he could never face stepping into a church again, etc….. It was really really really sad. Our mission leader was moved too and he speaks English well so he went and found a beautiful talk that Gordon B. Hinckley wrote called War and Peace, and he wrote a really sweet note on the back saying that we will always be there for him, whenever he feels comfortable to come to church, and he bore his testimony to him. We’re going to ask the Elders to take it over to him today and slip it under his door. Being a missionary is really great because you get to see miracles, and when the people around you have success, it makes you so incredibly happy, but it’s hard because when those same people suffer, you suffer too. :/ But sometimes, all we can do is just pray for them.

 

On Thursday, we had our multi-zone meeting with the President and the assistants. It was between our zone (Magdalena) and Rimac. It was maybe one of the best trainings that we have ever received. It was all focused on the basics — the gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. He asked us to study a talk by Elder Uchtdorf first, and then we discussed it there. It was called ”Pues ya no temáis, y su escudo seré.” It was a very spiritual and emotional meeting. President Borg is the best!!

 

That night, we got to celebrate Thanksgiving! There is this really awesome family of members in our ward who had been planning to give us Thanksgiving dinner since more than 6 weeks ago. They are so sweet! Thanksgiving happened to be on the same day as Elder Gonzalez’s birthday this year, so we got to eat cake too. First we shared a spiritual message about gratitude and for an activity we drew little hand turkeys and wrote what we were grateful for. It was really cute!

My thanksgiving turkey. (We all made them)

My thanksgiving turkey. (We all made them)

We talked to the family about everything beforehand and got approval for everything, and they told us that they were expecting a flour war. It was fine because they are in the process of gutting their house and so there was nothing that could have been damaged. It was a lot of fun and it’s a Thanksgiving that I’m sure none of us are going to forget. To say thanks for everything that they did for us, we went back to their house on Saturday and painted just about the whole thing as a service project. I am so grateful for the members who are like our families down here!

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Choque and I joking about starting a war again. We didn't, though.

Choque and I joking about starting a war again. We didn’t, though.

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On Sunday, our little cute Yoreli Graciel was baptized! She was 8 years old, so it didn’t count as an investigator baptism but we still helped her get prepared by teaching her the missionary lessons and everything because she is just so sweet and special! She’s one of those little girls that you just like to be around because they have a sweet spirit. I can’t wait for her to serve a mission someday!

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Tomorrow I have to give my final testimony in the cambios meeting. It’s a tradition for all of the people who are starting their last transfer to give their testimony in front of everyone. I’m really nervous and I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to say. But when it comes down to it, a testimony is a testimony.

 

I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that it’s a complement to the Bible. I absolutely would not be here without it. I know that the church was restored through a prophet that was called of God — Joseph Smith. I know that he lived and died with honor, and that he sealed his testimony with his life. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everything that is unfair, incorrect, or painful in life can be recompensed. I know that before we lived here on the earth, we lived with our loving Father in Heaven, and that we’re here because he wants us to know just how much we truly can achieve, and what our divine potential really is. I know that everything that happens to us in this life is designed to give us, in the end, the greatest joy possible. And one of the greatest spiritual truths that I’ve learned in this time is that the hard things in our life really are for our good, in the end.

 

I sure love you guys so much and I hope that you have an absolutely amazing week. I’ll let you know what happens with cambios. I don’t think we’ll be going anywhere though.

 

TAKE CARE, EVERYONE!!!

 

With a lot of love,

Hermana Hollberg

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Working in our sector. It's cute.

Working in our sector. It’s cute.

Visiting our mission leader's new baby

Visiting our mission leader’s new baby

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Watching a procession for the Catholic Saint San Martín de Porres (I guess yesterday was his day or something?)

Watching a procession for the Catholic Saint San Martín de Porres (I guess yesterday was his day or something?)

Doing service by cleaning a garden, in a trio for a day with Hermana Zaracho. We found this crazy vine that was realllly long and we thought it would be perfect for jumping rope! So we took a picture just for fun.

Doing service by cleaning a garden, in a trio for a day with Hermana Zaracho. We found this crazy vine that was realllly long and we thought it would be perfect for jumping rope! So we took a picture just for fun.

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My Turn‏

Ok…. so… You know how everyone down here knows that at least ONCE in your mission, you’ll get bacteria?? I thought I was doing really well and that I was going to make it through the whole mission without any problems but… NOPE! It was my turn. I got a stomach infection! And Hermana Choque did too. We have been feeling pretty crumby for about a week or two, and then on Friday, I woke up at about 4 am because I felt like my stomach was just burning, and I couldn’t sleep. Then at about 8 am, I got a fever. I felt very, very sick. And I got very, very sick. Haha it was awful. I couldn’t even drink water because my body would be like, ”Nope! Not having any of that!” I couldn’t hold it down. I finally called Hermana Borg at about 9 and she prescribed us some medicine and told us that we’d have to take the entire day off. We were so mad because we had SO much to do, including a shift in the family history center from 2 pm to 8:30 pm, and we had some really important appointments there! It was also bad because I wanted to take Ibuprofen because my whole body was aching thanks to the fever, but we just couldn’t eat anything. We couldn’t even leave the house to buy pills, so we had to call the Elders over and they went to the Pharmacy for us and also gave us a blessing. They’re good guys. We pretty much slept the whole day on Friday, but on Saturday we had to get back to work. By Sunday, we were doing a lot better, but still feeling a little nauseous. And now it’s Monday and we’re doing great! So it’s over! But hey, I’ll tell you, it was a great way to loose like 5 pounds in two days! hahaha. Peruvian weight loss trick — eat food from venders in the road and get bacteria. It’s foolproof.

On Thursday, just before we got sick, we did an intercambio with our sister training leaders (Hermana Capps and Hermana Aguero) and it was actually really interesting. It was like a walk down memory lane. I went back to Magdalena, visited the same old people, ate lunch at my old pensionista’s house, slept in my same old bed, was companions with Hermana Capps again…. and It was actually really nice. We just talked and talked and talked… and it was really good. It felt like a sleepover.

 

This week Hermana Choque and I were totally looking forward to being able to spend more time in our sector but…. we were in it for even less than the last week!! It’s really sad. It actually makes you feel really guilty.. Because we have all of these members and, well, we don’t have any investigators right now but we have less active members to visit and everything, and the bishop has been giving us assignments but we’ve been coming home every night completely exhausted, trying our best to do everything, but we just can’t do it all in the same time. The family history center is getting way more structured, and that’s nice. Hopefully this week we’ll get more time to kick back and make our normal visits.

Ok, so church starts here in Las Brisas at 9 am, right? Well guess what happened yesterday: At 9:01, the second counselor to the bishop comes down from the stand and finds us in the crowd. He comes and whispers to us, ”um, so can one of you guys give a 10-15 minute talk? One of the guys who was supposed to speak didn’t come.” Doh! Hermana Choque didn’t want to so I did it. But it’s ok. I remember before my mission, Gerritt told me that in the field, you learn how to pull a lesson or talk out of nowhere and give it on the spot, and I remember thinking, ”Nu-huh, that’s like impossible.” But he was totally right. I was really nervous but I pretty much recycled a talk I gave in San Silvestre about the Book of Mormon and missionary work for members. And it turned out pretty spanking good. But it was the Spirit, not me. But there was this literally crazy guy who came to church (literally crazy and without his pills) and in the middle of my talk, he totally shouted ”AMEN!!!” from the front row and it was really embarrassing because I totally lost my train of thought and went red. Oh well! What can you do?

After church, we had to take the sacrament to a few families that needed it. We were going to go with a couple of priests, but in the end, they couldn’t because the stake needed them for something, so we got permission to go with the Elders in our ward. First, we went to the house of our mission leader because his wife had just had a C-section on Wednesday night and needed him to stay with her at the house, and couldn’t go to church. It was really spiritual: both of them looked like they were going to cry when it came time for the sacrament prayers. It was so nice. And then, we went to the house of one of our less active members named Anival. He has been suffering from diabetes and it got really serious and he about died a few times. He almost got his legs amputated too. We always visit him, he’s such a great guy! He’s still too weak to come to church though. So we took the Elders and the sacrament to him and it was seriously the most SPIRITUAL appointment that I’ve had in a while. It was amazing. The Elders also gave him a blessing and everyone was just crying again. We all just sat in silence for a while and the Spirit was so strong, there was so much peace in the air that Anival just sat and wept. I remember, before my mission, I didn’t ever really have a testimony about doing service. I knew that it was good and everything, and I always was there in the Young Women’s activities and all, but I guess I was just too selfish to really have a spiritual experience about it. But here, it’s been just a blessing to have the opportunity to learn about service, and how you can actually enjoy it so thoroughly! Visiting the sick, serving the weak, singing with the elderly…. It’s so great! I love it. Such a blessing.

 

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Service project — painting the room of our mission leader’s new baby that was born on Wednesday night!!

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Also, this week I think that one of my old investigators in San Silvestre got baptized!!! I’m so excited! I wanted to go so bad but they didn’t let me. His name is Teofilo, and Hermana Castillo and I found him. That means that’s the second baptism that that sector has had since it opened in February! Crazy, right? I know in the mission, we’re not supposed to call sectors ”dry sectors” or anything like that because they’re more difficult, but both of the current assistants served there in that ward a while ago and agree with me that it’s a ”faith-tester”. But I’m so happy for that place!!! I love San Silvestre so much!!!

This is a little girl named Yoreli -- we're helping her prepare to get baptized on Sunday! She's only 8 so it doesn't count for the mission when we teach her or anything, but we do it anyway because she's such a sweetheart. Yesterday we taught her lesson 2 -- the Plan of Salvation -- by helping her draw it all out on paper. So cute!

This is a little girl named Yoreli — we’re helping her prepare to get baptized on Sunday! She’s only 8 so it doesn’t count for the mission when we teach her or anything, but we do it anyway because she’s such a sweetheart. Yesterday we taught her lesson 2 — the Plan of Salvation — by helping her draw it all out on paper. So cute!

So this week, I’ve been doing a lot of meditating. I’m really glad because the whole center thing has been keeping us really busy and I haven’t had time to even think about being trunky, but this morning, during personal study, we were re-reading the ”fourth missionary” talk and I just got really sad. I’m really sad. To think — in about a month, this whole entire adventure will be over. It’ll just feel like a dream. I can’t believe it. I don’t want to do it… I feel so happy and comfortable and I have my friends here and I know people and I’m happy with who I am and I’m happy with who the mission makes me be. And everyone always says here that the mission is like the MTC for real life. NOO! I don’t want that! Its funny because so many of us missionaries think that we’ve already hit nirvana or something like that—we get to a point and we’re like, ”Ok, I’ve reached my potential now. I’ve finished my life. I have my entire life planned out.” But we’re only TWENTY YEARS OLD! I feel like what 2 Nephi 31 says, how baptism is the door/gate to all of the stuff that the perfect gospel has to offer, but it’s like the mission is the door/gate in this case. And I’m really scared for that. Some people come home from their missions and they’re like, ”ok I’m ready to get married in two weeks please.” But the mission has had the opposite effect for me. I’m more scared of all of that stuff than ever before in my life. I’ve learned a lot about living life and enjoying each moment as it comes. That’s a big lesson you have to learn in the mission. For all of you guys who are going to serve soon, you have to remember that. That’s when the time starts flying by — when you live for today. Not for p-day, not waiting to go home in two years, but you have to live and enjoy each day and each week as it comes. And that goes for real life too. Heavenly Father wants us to hasten his work, but not to hurry it. When I get back, I have a lot of plans. I plan on really enjoying this time in my life — being young still. I’m going to get really active in institute and I’m going to study and work really hard and also… ok don’t laugh but I’m about 90% convinced that I’m coming back and maybe going to Bolivia to spend a summer doing a dance internship and participate in the festivals. I don’t know if you guys know, but traditional dance is such a huge deal down here, all year-round, and ESPECIALLY in Bolivia where my BFF Hermana Choque lives. And the festival directors are really into foreign dancers so they would totally set me up and let me in. They really support people from other countries trying to learn about South American culture and they give them priority. By the way, Hermana Choque is a really good dancer. And she invited me to come down here and do some dance camps down here. That would be my dream. Seriously. I would LOVE it. If it doesn’t work out in Bolivia, I’ll just come back to Peru and do something here. That’s what I wanted to do anyway.

Anyway, maybe you guys all think that I’m crazy now, but those are some thoughts. Cool stuff. I really love Latino culture. It took me a while to get used to it, but now I can’t even imagine having served anywhere else. I think that the positive qualities that the Latinos have, have really been a great complement to my weaknesses, and it’s helped me out a ton. I LOVE SOUTH AMERICA!!

You guys are going to laugh at me so hard when I come back and just listen to reggaeton and Salsa and like Corazon Serrano in my room… and try to be a Latina. Haha it’s ok, no regrets!

Well, I better get off now.

Love you all! Take care!!! Love, Hermana Hollberg

 

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We went and played soccer as a zone in callao

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Yesterday we were in the institute and the maintenance guys found two BABY CONDOR/VULTURE things in a nest on the roof. This one was the size of a full-grown cat, it was SO HUGE! It was making these hissing sounds and when Hermana Choque went to take a photo of it, it stood up and opened its wings and yelled at her like it was going to attack her!!

Yesterday we were in the institute and the maintenance guys found two BABY CONDOR/VULTURE things in a nest on the roof. This one was the size of a full-grown cat, it was SO HUGE! It was making these hissing sounds and when Hermana Choque went to take a photo of it, it stood up and opened its wings and yelled at her like it was going to attack her!!

 

Killing a cucuracha (cockroach) in the house. Happens maybe twice a day.

Killing a cucuracha (cockroach) in the house. Happens maybe twice a day.

 

¡Noq’a munaycheq!‏

(NO-hah moo-NAI-cheh)

(¡Les quiero!)

(I love you guys!)

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Hey guess what I found out? My companion speaks fluent Quechua. I had no idea whatsoever. It was as if it was completely casual or something. Somebody asked her, ”Oh hey, do you speak Quechua?” And she was like, ”Yeah.” That was it. I just about didn’t believe her. And it’s not like she knows a little bit or she just studied it for a few years in school or as a hobby, she literally grew up speaking it just as much as she’s spoken Spanish. She can read the Book of Mormon in Quechua without any problem at all. What the heck?? I can’t believe I didn’t know!!!! That’s so cool! So this whole week I’ve been asking her how to say all sorts of stuff. Quechua is such a strange language because it doesn’t have really any Latin roots at all. Just a few words that the Spanish taught them when they came to the Americas. But the grammar and the pronunciation is really different from anything that I’ve ever known.

(For those of you who don’t know, Quechua is one of the native languages down here that’s spoken between Perù and Bolivia. It is a branch of what the Incas used to speak!)

Well, this week has been a pretty crazy week. Believe it or not, we’ve only had about one days’ worth or proselyting time! We’ve been full blast in plans and all sorts of crazy stuff about opening this center. Getting to direct the very first mission-operated family history center in the area is really cool, but it’s also really really hard because that means that everyone’s eyes are glued right to you.  The president has to give a presentation tomorrow about the center and also on the 15th when all of the mission presidents in the area will be going to Colombia for their semi-annual meeting! So we have to scrape up a whole bunch of stuff that he can share there. The days are passing by like wildfire, and every night, after everything possible is said and done, Hermana Choque and I collapse into our beds. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so exhausted on my mission. Whew!

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Making the very first decorations. Those trees took a LOT of work!!!! But they are so worth it. Hermana Choque and I made everything together.

 

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We made giant cards to put on the walls!!!

We made giant cards to put on the walls!!!

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So basically, that’s been the entire week. Like really. Let’s see. Monday we went out and visited people. Tuesday morning, we had Mission Council and got to present the center and how it’s opening! It was cool. Then we went up to the area offices and got a training, and also two laptops to work with. Then we flew back down to the institute and started visiting classes with Pia and Carlos Levano, and even though they were still putting in cables and such in the center, we used another room and used the laptops and wifi to do a little preview.

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With Pia and Carlos Levano, and Dulio Delgado.

We helped a few students get their accounts set up and the work done. We also started handing out these really neat flyers about the center to all of the students (dang, I forgot to get a picture of them!).

Wednesday was our P-day, and it was one of my favorites of all time! We went to the Parque de las Aguas and we spent literally the entire day as a zone. It was a great bonding day and everyone had a ton of fun.

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On Thursday, we didn’t even get to do our weekly planning because at 8 in the morning, we were in the center setting up. They were just finishing putting in the internet cables and power lines while we were decorating and setting up the laptops. Then our friend Dulio came down from the area office and hooked us up with two more computers and a printer. We were there the entire day working out the kinks, finding people to teach and advertising. Friday and Saturday, we spent with the new companionships that President selected to work with us and rotate out ”shifts” every week. So we met with all 4 companionships and went over the rules, the systems, the expectations, our goals, and the schedule. We made a fixed schedule yesterday and sent it out to the companionships so that they can plan out their weeks without any big issues. This week, we’re going to spend the entire time with them to help them with whatever kind of a doubt they might have, and also to monitor the process. Having 2 companionships at a time will also be nice because this week we’re really going to focus on marketing the center too by going out and visiting the biggest classes for a 5 minute introduction to the center. All of the companionships have responded really well. We’ve been focusing on trying to really communicate the importance of this responsibility and how great of an opportunity it is and I think that they’re getting excited about it. The last couple of days have been mainly working out the bugs on the systems, computers, schedules, security, keys, etc., but this week’s focus is going to be on-the-job training experiences for the other companionships and big time advertising. We’ve really gotta get this thing flying before the end of November when school gets out. We’ve had some good success already with youth coming, and we even found some less active people who had come to take an entrance test to BYU, one of which told me that after having found out that she really could do the work for her grandmother who had passed away (after a little preparation from the missionaries who lived in her ward boundaries), she ”finally had a desire to come back to church and overcome the shame that she had felt for falling inactive for so many years”!! It was amazing! Bullseye! We’re hoping to see many more experiences like that this week. We’ve already have a few elders call and make appointments for visits so we’ll see how they go!

Although, this week has been pretty much centered in the… well, center, we did have one really spiritual experience with an investigator on Sunday and Monday. Her name is Elita and she came to church by herself last Sunday. She was looking for comfort because her 16 year-old daughter passed away 6 months ago from cancer. Monday was her supposed-to-be 17th birthday, so Elita was having a really rough time with it all. On top of that, she had just received from her husband a letter from his lawyer demanding divorce and her family was slowly falling apart. The president of the Elders quorum found her and invited her over to his house to do a family night and to invite us to give a lesson. We met with her and talked on Sunday for an hour, and then went back on Monday to see her again. We were planning on teaching lesson 2 right off of the bat (The Plan of Salvation) but we found out that she had a pretty serious doubt about prayer. She didn’t want to pray for herself because she felt too ashamed by her past mistakes to feel like she could ask anything of God. For those of you out there in the world who may feel like that, please know that only the Adversary wants us to think that! There is no ”worthiness” limit that says that we may or may not pray and ask for help from our Father. He loves even the worst sinner, and wants to help us above all. We are his children. My companion took out a scripture in Enos in the Book of Mormon and we started reading from verse 4. Elita started to weep and asked if we could keep reading, so we continued until verse 12. When we finished, we talked about it a little bit, and then there was a moment of silence. With tears in her eyes, Elita looked up and said, ”Ahora les escucho,” nodding her head. (”I’m listening to you now.” ”You’re right, I’ll listen to you.”). Then we felt impressed to invite her to say a prayer in that moment. She accepted willingly and we knelt on the wood floor. We told her that she could pray out loud, and we closed our eyes and waited her to take the moment and find what she wanted to say. We kept waiting for her to start. And waiting. Five whole minutes passed by as we were knelt together on that hardwood floor. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Not a word. But both Hermana Choque and I felt like we shouldn’t even look up nor do anything to disturb the moment. Twenty minutes passed. Both Choque and I have knee problems and we were starting to really be hurting, but we didn’t do anything to let it show. Even though we were in complete silence, we could feel the Spirit just burning and we knew that it was going to be a really spiritual moment for Elita. We stayed there, kneeling, with our eyes closed. Twenty-five entire minutes went by, and finally Elita’s phone rang. She answered it, and unfortunately had to go to meet up with someone. But standing up, she looked at us with such joy in her eyes and she hugged us for the longest time. She said that she had found her answer. It was such an amazing moment. We felt totally directed by the Spirit. It was one of those moments that makes literally every pressure and bitter part of a mission wholly and completely worth it, times ten. We left feeling really great, with our own testimonies feeling even stronger that Heavenly Father really does love us one by one and he talks to us individually and guides us to the same big answer: Christ. We knew that it wasn’t us directing the lesson, but Heavenly Father.

I hope that you all have a really great week! Thanks for writing me! I love you all!

 

To Hamilton and also to the twins! ¡Cusi p’unchy kama!

Happy Birthday this week!!! I hope you have a great one!!!

 

Love, Hermana Hollberg

Eating lunch yesterday at the house of the Area President's son. The Uceda family!! AMAZING examples of such a strong family. So great. All of them.

Eating lunch yesterday at the house of the Area President’s son. The Uceda family!! AMAZING examples of such a strong family. So great. All of them.

 

Uceda Family. They're members in our ward and the little girls are such dolls. So fun.

Uceda Family. They’re members in our ward and the little girls are such dolls. So fun.

 

Brownies at Mission council for Hermana Borg's Birthday!

Brownies at Mission council for Hermana Borg’s Birthday!

 

A DOUBLE BANANA

A DOUBLE BANANA

 

Shopping at Polvo's Azules -- the biggest market to buy all of your really-nice- looking-but-shamelessly-fake-brand Adidas and Nike and North Face, etc..

Shopping at Polvo’s Azules — the biggest market to buy all of your really-nice- looking-but-shamelessly-fake-brand Adidas and Nike and North Face, etc..

 

Parque de las Aguas

Parque de las Aguas

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Paying for an overpriced train ride for children through the park, but having a lot of fun at the same time.

Paying for an overpriced train ride for children through the park, but having a lot of fun at the same time.

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my companion is the best

my companion is the best

Festival of Dances, Magdalena Stake 2014

Literally my favorite event of the year

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The Breezes‏

Hi everyone!
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First of all, in this post, I would like to make a dedication to my dear cousin, Steve Evans, who passed away this morning after a long battle with leukemia and graft-versus-host disease. I can proudly say that he was one of the many people who truly encouraged me by their example to become who I am today, and also to serve a mission. I am so proud of him and for everything that he fought here, and I know that even though he had such great challenges and barriers here on earth, he was a shining example of a return missionary who ALWAYS lived up to the person that he became—and He who he represented—during his service. He had the most incredible testimony and was maybe one of the best sunday-school teachers that I have ever had. I love him so much and I love his wife Taryn too, and I will be forever grateful for the impact that they have had in my life. And I know that they have impacted many more lives than just mine. My heart goes out so much to the family, and I pray that even though I am very far away at this time, that we can all feel a little closer right now. I know that that’s what he would have wanted. I love you all so much and I’m so incredibly glad to have the knowedge that we will see him again someday, and that ”For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

I think that Paul put it very well in 1 Corithians 15:52-57:

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 I don’t know where I would be without the knowledge of this gospel. I don’t know where my family would be. But I prefer to dwell upon the fact that we have been so blessed. We KNOW that He has a specific plan for each one of us, and that we are in His hands. He is taking care of us. He knows us individually, by name, and when nobody else understands us, He does. He has a plan, and this time on the earth will truly be only a twinkling of an eye in the scheme of the eternities. Steve always encouraged us to remember that perfect love casts out all fear, and I know that we can apply that to this situation right now. We don’t need to have fear that he’s passed on because we have our Heavenly Father’s infinite love, which He sends to us through his Holy Ghost, which testifies that everything will be ok. He has a place prepared for us. His entire work and purpose is to bring to pass OUR immortality and eternal life. There is no reason to fear. I love Steve and I love the whole Evans family and I just want you guys to know how much we’re all here for you right now. Stay strong. And Lauren — congratulations on the new baby!! With passing, comes new life.

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I totally have to apologize for my email that I sent last week. I had so many things to tell you all and as I sat down, my mind just went completely blank. And I forgot to mention a WHOLE LOT of things. Let’s see:

  • I HOPE THAT TOM HAD A REALLY AWESOME BIRTHDAY!
  • I don’t have fleas after all. They were just other bug bites. We think. But then Hermana Capps started getting them real bad. But I don’t have mine anymore. Crossing fingers.
  • I saw two members from San Silvestre on Tuesday (Yasmìn and Joseph) and I heard that they both FINALLY decided to go on missions!!! I’m so happy! We worked so hard with them to go out and let them teach with us to try and get them motivated and they both made the decision! There is no better feeling, hearing that news from them :)
  • Hermana Suqui (my trainer) is coming back to visit Lima around the 15th of January. I’m PRAYING so hard that she’s going to come a little early because I want to see her, but I’m going to be home by the 9th!! Ah
I think that’s about all of it. So let me catch you guys up on what’s been happening.

Ok, so I was 100 percent SURE that I was going to stay and finish my mission in Magdalena, and we already knew that Hermana Capps was going to stay for another transfer. But the completely unexpected happened—I got transferred out! Just after 6 weeks there. I was finally starting to really know the streets and members and everything! I was really shocked. But what President did was he divided the Family History and Sister Training Leader Callings so Hermana Capps stayed there as an STL and I got sent over to my THIRD WARD here in the Magdalena Stake (!!!) named Las Brisas! I got put over here because it’s right out front of the institute building, where we will soon be opening up an office for family history for the mission! That’s still in the works though. But for mom’s info, our sector is bounded by avenida Venezuela, Avenida Tingo Maria… over there. It’s a really huge factory zone of Lima. Actually, it is THE factory zone of Lima. There aren’t that many people in the streets, and it is funny because it reminds me of the area like 3 west-ish and more west of that in Salt Lake. It’s the sketchiest sector yet that I’ve had, but it’s still sister approved. It’s interesting because even the church has been robbed a few times, and now it has to be locked with a key at all times. If anyone wants to come in to attend an activity or anything, they have to ring a doorbell and wait for someone to come out to unlock it. But don’t worry mom! It’s in the Elder’s side of the ward where we don’t usually go.

Our room is  s c a r y. Everything is covered in black mold, and there are ants everywhere. We’ve got a lot of work to do. This morning we found a rag stashed behind the toilet and it literally had 5 inch tall mushrooms growing on it. Ay ay ay! It is VERY different from my old sector. But it’s Perú!

Hermana Choque is the best. She’s from Cochabamba, Bolivia and has been out for 13 months. She’s 22 and really reminds me of Hermana Suqui. We get along really well and we both feel REALLY motivated about the work. She feels really intimidated about the family history calling but she does a really great job training and her testimony is rock solid. It’s her strength. I’m really glad to be with her and to be able to learn from her in this time.

I share a ward with Elder Scott, who was in my district in the MTC. Crazy, right?
On Saturday, as we were getting ready for the day, we got a call from the area advisors and they were like, ”Hey, can you guys give an hour-and-a-half presentation at the Lima North Institute building about family history to all of the future missionaries at 10:30 this morning?” We just about fainted. We scrambled everything together and in the end, we had a plan. We got there and there were about 200 youth in full Sunday clothes AND the MTC presidents AND the Perú Lima North mission presidents…! We just about died, seriously. But then they told us that in the end we were going to teach for 30 minutes, but just rotate and teach 4 smaller groups. We were way cooler with that. And then there was some weird organization problem and they dismissed everyone for lunch and they just told us, ”Actually, you can just talk to 2 groups for 5 minutes each, and then go home. Thanks!” I was kind of mad, I admit it. After everything that they had put us through that morning to get an hour and a half of material, complete with videos and examples!!! And then they just gave us enough time to introduce ourselves. AGH! But it was ok. We got over it.

Yesterday we were invited to go to the San Martin stake and talk to the missionaries and ward members. This time, the area advisors made us teach for 35 minutes, but it was nice because we already had a bit prepared from what we were going to use the day before. It was still really last minute though.

Things are really busy because this is a really busy sector and we have way more people to visit than in Magdalena! It’s going to be even more of a challenge, balancing our time. But it’ll be fun. I’m excited. We have a lot to do but I love the feeling of accomplishing something.

I have two WAY GOOD stories to tell you guys but I’m going to have to save them for next week. Sorry for the cliff hanger. But they are a couple stories from members that will blow your socks off. Don’t let me forget next week.  :)

I am so glad to be a missionary and I never want this experience to end. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. To those of you who are considering to serve one day, take my advice: it’s literally the best thing that you can do for your current family, and for your future family too. For example, even though I’m farther away from everyone than I have ever been in my life, I’ve truly grown the closest to my family than I have ever been. Especially to my Mom.  Heavenly Father always makes it work out (D & C 118:3).

I am so out of time but to those of you that I didn’t get to respond this week—I love you!!!

Sincerely,

With my testimony,

Hermana Hollberg

 

 

All of the chaos of Cambios…. 24 new elders came!! That’s a TON! Almost every companionship in the whole mission had a transfer. Now we’re 245 missionaries here in 10 square miles.

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Getting my new companion... Hermana Choque!!

Getting my new companion… Hermana Choque!!

Saying goodbye to our landlord, the stake president's wife Hermana De Loayza. She wrote me a card!

Saying goodbye to our landlord, the stake president’s wife Hermana De Loayza. She wrote me a card!

Getting REAL INDIAN CURRY!!!! It was so hot, it made me cry but it was TOTALLY worth it! Cambios splurge!

Getting REAL INDIAN CURRY!!!! It was so hot, it made me cry but it was TOTALLY worth it! Cambios splurge!

With Hermana Roca, another sister from the Magdalena ward (hermana Wardle's companion). She's really cool.

With Hermana Roca, another sister from the Magdalena ward (hermana Wardle’s companion). She’s really cool.

With mi'hija -- Zumbita :) Love that girl. She's working on her English and she's in like 2 Nephi something in her English Book of Mormon!

With mi’hija — Zumbita :) Love that girl. She’s working on her English and she’s in like 2 Nephi something in her English Book of Mormon!

Hermana Ramos and ''Vani''

Hermana Ramos and ”Vani”

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Saying goodbye to our Magdalena Pensionista Hermana Ramos, and her crazy dog Vanilla.

Picture of a completely normal, poor part of Peru. It's crazy to think that when I see houses like that, it's just so normal that it doesn't even phase me at all! That's where we are every day. We actually taught a family from one of those houses last week!

Picture of a completely normal, poor part of Peru. It’s crazy to think that when I see houses like that, it’s just so normal that it doesn’t even phase me at all! That’s where we are every day. We actually taught a family from one of those houses last week!

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New sector. Avenida Venezuela.

New sector. Avenida Venezuela.

 

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Making real lemon bars in honor of Tom’s birthday at the house of our new pensionista Mayra!! A sister who was here a long time ago (I think it was Hermana Bejarano?) got a box of Krusteaz mix and gave it to Mayra, but she couldn’t read the English instructions and so she gave it to us and let us do it!

We had to jump through a few hoops to make it all work, but in the end, they turned out REALLY delicious and everyone loved them!

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Ward Activity

Ward Activity

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Meeting with the San Martin zone yesterday afternoon for a family history meeting.

Meeting with the San Martin zone yesterday afternoon for a family history meeting.

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making lunch today as a zone

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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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My Thoughts About Women and the Priesthood:

12 September, 2014

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I was thinking a lot more about how someone can explain this topic and I had some new ideas to write down. Whenever I’ve taught that the gospel blesses families, I’ve always said that God loves us to much that He has sent us here in teams.  He didn’t drop us off alone to fight and fend for ourselves against all form of temptation, but He set us up with specific others that have qualities, talents and even weaknesses that complement ours.  If I have a certain weakness, maybe I can make up for it by learning from the example of my parents, or my sister, or even a grandparent.  My growth from seeing them will not only edify me, but it will help me change and become molded into more of who my divine nature says that I can become.

 

In the same way, I can help those around me by using my own strengths and positive characteristics to help them improve.  It’s a balance.  See Ether 12:27.

 

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

 

Now we know that for us truly to progress, we have to pass through this part of the Plan of Salvation – out life on the earth. For this to work out, we need two big jobs done here by the children of God in order to help the process out and allow each one of us to be tested and given the opportunity to accept Christ.

 

First, these spirits need to come into the world, receive a body, grow in light and truth, learn the gospel and learn how to make good decisions (agency). Then, they need to put off the natural man and make and keep covenants with God in order to ensure that they can get off this planet ok and pass on to the much greater things that He has prepared for us once we’ve progressed.

 

In order to ensure that each son or daughter is involved, they are given a role and a part of the picture. This ensures that nobody is left out and forgotten, and that we all have opportunities to serve and help others to return to live with God again.

 

Women are given the keys and responsibilities of the first part, and men are given that of the second.

Women are given the power to have children and to nurture and raise them with their set of spiritual gifts, and men are given the power of the Priesthood to be able to teach, lead, and perform saving ordinances with their own set of spiritual gifts that will allow them to return to the presence of God after they have been tested.

 

To further ensure that we work together so that together we might achieve exaltation, this life has been set up in the way that families can’t be formed without both a mother and a father, and that a man cannot receive the highest order of the Priesthood without being sealed to his wife. Neither can fulfill his or her role without the other.

 

In this sense, “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor 11:11). Both responsibilities are completely crucial in the Plan of Salvation, and the great purposes of Heavenly Father can’t be achieved without the two working together.

 

If women had the power of the Priesthood, they would be able to do everything needed, and men would be left aside and forgotten. Likewise, if men were able to have families by themselves, women would be left alone, helpless to serve and to be remembered.  THAT is what I call true inequality, and that’s not what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about.

 

God has given the two roles to be fulfilled by two genders so that they may edify, perfect and take care of each other. Both roles are equally honorable and important, and men are not the Priesthood, nor are women only family-making machines.  We all have a divine nature and a sacred calling to help this perfect plan be fulfilled, that will allow us to live with eternal joy and with those who we truly love.  :)

 

Babby’s first Cornelio‏ (means baptism that seemed to come to them)

Well this week has been pretty great! Hermana Sanjines and I had a really awesome day yesterday because………

 

1)  It was her birthday! The members were really cute and we ate cake for lunch and for dinner too. Whew. But it was worth it. Tres Leches is always worth it.

Surprise birthday dinner at Martha's house with the whole district

Surprise birthday dinner at Martha’s house with the whole district

 

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 there is a toy "charzard" in the background on the wall of Martha's house?????

there is a toy “charzard” in the background on the wall of Martha’s house?????

 

2)  Our sector, San Silvestre 1, had its first baptism since its opening! FINALLY! We did it!

 

It was seriously such a tender mercy baptism. Heavenly Father knew that we were struggling and he was like, ”Ok, let’s give them a little pick-me-up.” Roxana was baptized yesterday at 9 AM, just before sacrament meeting started at 10:30 AM. We had to cram all of the missionary lessons and discussions into one week by literally visiting her every day. We had her baptismal interview planned for Thursday afternoon in order to leave us a little bit of grace time, but when Thursday came, Roxane just got bombarded with work and she couldn’t even leave the house until Saturday night. And that’s not the best idea to do—have an interview just the night before the baptism, because if it turns out that the investigator needs a little bit more time, you have to call everything off and tell the members. We were a bit worried but everything turned out fine, and the Elders really helped us out by cleaning the ward for us and filling up the font. Our new ward mission leader bought little cupcake Twinkie things and some juice so that in the morning on Sunday, we had little refreshments. It was great! Roxana loved it and when it came time for her to bear her testimony at the end of the service, she couldn’t help but shed a few tears. Her 10 year-old daughter (Carla, who reminds me of Isabelle) was just beaming. After the interview on Saturday night, when we got back home Carla was there waiting anxiously. Roxana looked at her and said, ”Hija, I’m getting baptized tomorrow.” Carla couldn’t help but just jump up and give her mom the hugest hug in the whole world, and then dance around. Then she ran outside and ran to a house a few doors down to tell the Primary President (and her young kids) that her mom was going to get baptized. She was so excited, it was so cute! Hermana Sanjines and I are really happy for them both. It was such a sweet moment.

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Funny story though — just after the interview, Hermana Sanjines and I had the idea to stop in a little street side bakery and let Roxana choose something to go as a little Congratulations gift. She walked right to the pieces of cake, her eyes glued to a specific piece with beige frosting. ”What flavor is this cake?” She asked. ”Coffee.” ”Ok, please give me one.” Hermana Sanjines and I, ”No no no Hermana we don’t drink/eat coffee, remember??”  ”Oh yeah…. I forgot, haha! Ok, then what flavor is THAT cake?” ”Coffee and chocolate.” ”Ok give me one of those.” Hermana Sanjines and I, ”Hermana, NO!!” It was really funny. She kept forgetting. Oh boy… But don’t worry, she’s really solid. We know that she was serious about getting baptized. She’s got a good testimony. She doesn’t drink coffee at all, and her daughter won’t let her anyway. She’s just got to get used to it.

 

We’re actually planning to go to the temple this week or next week with Roxana to do baptisms. The mission came out with this data that recent converts who enter the temple within 6 months of their baptism have a retention rate of 80 percent. If they go in the temple within 6 weeks of their baptism, the retention goes up to 98 percent. Now that’s the Spirit of Elijah talking. This week, we also got to spend a little bit of time with our very dear Carmen.

Us with Carmen

Us with Carmen

She’s a new-ish member, and we’ve been visiting her since forever. We are definitely going to visit her and make food with her when you guys come down. She made me promise! Anyway, she has been going through a really hard time right now. But one of her passions is cooking, so we went over to her house and helped her prepare cuy!! The dish is called Piccante de Cuy, and it’s a traditional dish from the Sierra. It was really cool. Hermana Sanjines has never even seen a cuy in real life, let alone seen one dead and cooked and eaten, so that was a new experience. But when all was said and done, she said that it was hands-down the best dish that she has eaten YET here in Perú. And she’s been out for 8 months. Score Perú! It was actually amazingly delicious. I’m thinking that we’re going to have to ask Carmen to prepare it when you come down, it’s just too delicious to pass up and it’s one of those experiences you’re not going to have anywhere else. Eating cuy or weird stuff like that totally doesn’t even phase me anymore. It’s funny to think how I would have felt like 2 years ago.

 

Anyway, so that has been our week. It’s actually been really great. I’m glad to be here. It’s crazy how everything changed practically overnight this cambio.

 

Well, that’s about it…. I know my letter isn’t crazy long this week. But things are going well. I’m happy because we’re getting to visit a lot of new members, since we’ve changed the boundaries. In fact, I need to run right now because we’ve gotta teach this less-active family about the forgiveness. It’s going to be a really beautiful lesson. And then we’ve got to meet up with the Elders to do another family night with them at the house of some more less-active members. Not sure what we’re going to do for that… the Elders are in charge of it this time. Every Monday we do a Family Night with them and visit members because it helps them get more excited about missionary work when they see us working together, united. Anyway…. so yeah! We’ve got to go but I sure love all of you guys and I love always getting to hear from you! Thanks for working stuff out for me about school and sending me pictures and actually reading all of this stuff that I write…. You’re all the best!

 

Love,

Hermana Hollberg

Us with Elder Unguez from Washington and Elder Paredes

Us with Elder Unguez from Washington and Elder Paredes

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the best chocolate maracuyá (passion fruit) birthday cake EVER

the best chocolate maracuyá (passion fruit) birthday cake EVER

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Finding REAL Campbells soup!!  It was incredible!  But it was like 11 soles a can.  shame.  Also Hermana Sanjines found some of her good old mate that they always drink in Argentina and she was pretty excited too!

Finding REAL Campbells soup!! It was incredible! But it was like 11 soles a can. shame. Also Hermana Sanjines found some of her good old mate that they always drink in Argentina and she was pretty excited too!

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more weird hairless dogs

Roxana and her crazy dog Mancha

 

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more weird hairless dogs

 

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making cuy with Carmen  (graphic!)

making cuy with Carmen (graphic!)

 

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finishing the ”Piccante de Cuy”

 

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This crazy huge carnivorous turtle from the jungle. It has a knife blade thing instead of teeth. It’s called a ''Char Rapa'' (and that's also a nickname for people from the jungle here). It's the 1st counselor to the bishop's pet. People have all sorts of interesting pets here. Our pensionista Martha almost bought a little monkey the other day.

This crazy huge carnivorous turtle from the jungle. It has a knife blade thing instead of teeth. It’s called a ”Char Rapa” (and that’s also a nickname for people from the jungle here). It’s the 1st counselor to the bishop’s pet. People have all sorts of interesting pets here. Our pensionista Martha almost bought a little monkey the other day.